The works of two Miao and three Tujia authors were put under the magnifying glass at the recent “Conference on Chongqing Ethnic Minority Writers” held in Beijing (重庆少数民族作品). The conference was co-sponsored by five heavyweight organizations including the Chongqing chapter of the China Writers’ Association, Nationalities Literature Magazine (民族文学) and the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Commission of Chongqing.
Novels by the following minority authors based in Chongqing—home to more than 2m members of non-Han ethnic groups—were discussed at the conference:
According to the report, all five will take part in the upcoming competition for writing by non-Han authors, the Junma Ethnic Literary Awards (骏马奖). First held in 1981 and six times since, the competition recognizes winners in several categories including novels, short stories, poetry, movie scripts and translations. Entries by minority writers may be in Chinese or other languages native to the PRC. It is managed by the China Writers’ Association and the State Ethnic Affairs Commission.
A Xinhua journalist’s recent visit with primary school teacher and Tujia scholar Chu Yongming (储永明在课间与孩子们进行土家对话) highlights a man with a mission—to ensure that the next generation of Tujia have the tools they need to speak the language of their people.
Working out of a primary school in Hubei’s Feng county, the 59-year-old has taken part in compiling two published works for language instruction (<土家语“原生态”土家语言校本教材> and <土家语言>), and is in the middle of editing a Dictionary of the Tujia Language (土家语辞典).
A few factoids re: the present state of the Tujia language cited in the article:
- 7.38m: Number of Tujia people in the PRC
- 0.67%: Portion of Tujia who can actually speak the language
- Distribution: Tujia are concentrated in Hubei, Guizhou, Chongqing and Sichuan
I recently came upon what seems to be a fairly comprehensive look at novels by non-Han writers published since 1949 that deal directly with issues of culture and identity. Entitled Ethnic Minority Novels (少数民族小说), the Chinese-language article is unfortunately not signed, but it appears to have been written by a scholar and published in one of China’s academic quarterlies.
I’d like to summarize parts of it here.
First, a few factoids:
- China officially recognizes 55 non-Han peoples as native to the PRC
- There are over 500 writers in the China Writers Association who consider themselves members of a minority ethnicity
- Since the 1970s, China has published over 300 novels by minority writers dealing with ethnic themes
The paper focuses on several authors: Tujia writer Sun Jianzhong (孙健忠), the Evenki Ureltu
(乌热尔图), and three Tibetans, Yeshi Tenzin (益希单增), Taxi Dawa
(扎西达娃) and Alai
(阿来). Several “ethnic” novels have been awarded the Mao Dun Literary Prize
, arguably the most prestigious literary award in China today:
- 《黄河东流去》（李準￼）(Yellow River Flowing to the East by Li Zhun)
- 《穆斯林的葬礼》（霍达）(Muslim Funeral by Huo Da)
- 《尘埃落定》（阿来）(Red Poppies by Alai)
Here is a longer list of what the author of this piece considers “significant” novels by ethnic writers since the Cultural Revolution. I have listed them by ethnicity. (Please note: translations of titles are mine and do not necessarily mean the novel has been published in English):