Wordsmith is feeling misunderstood

14:42, December 04, 2009      

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In its Nov 2 issue, Time Asia ran a profile of Han Han, calling him the "best-selling novelist, champion amateur race-car driver, wildly popular blogger and, as his self-consciously provocative antics at the track underlined, China's most media-savvy celebrity rebel".

Han is seen as a "torchbearer" of the "post-80s generation", which Time defines as "apolitical, money- and status-obsessed children of the country's explosive economic boom". The magazine goes on to quote Lydia Liu, a professor of Chinese and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, who argues that Han "is a willing participant in a process that channels the disaffected energy of youth into consumerism".

The article portrays Han as "carefully groomed in an epicene, metrosexual way that is unusual among Chinese males of his age."

In the Nov 12 issue of Youth Weekend, the Time story is depicted as a "set-up" piece by Han, though somewhat light-heartedly.

The Time reporter interviewed both Han - via e-mail - and Jessie Jiang, who contributed to the Time piece. Jiang said Han "was very intelligent and humorous".

In a question-and-answer session, Han argues he does not belong to China's literary scene, and thus does not qualify as "China's literary bad boy".

Instead, he sees himself as an "athlete" first. When asked about the "epicene" description, he complains that they "sometimes completely fail to understand or appreciate you".

Han said he did not believe the Columbia professor whom Time quoted had read his essays, adding: "In truth, I think that all foreign media hold contempt for Chinese people deep down in their bones. They often arrive for the interview with their own viewpoints. It doesn't matter what you say, they will only make a brief intro of you and then put you in the framework of their article."

Source: China Daily
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