BEIJING, Sept. 26, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- On the afternoon of September 19th, 2018, Blancpain, the innovation-focused premium Swiss watch brand, announced the Blancpain-Imaginist Literary Prize in Beijing, in association with Imaginist Press, a Beijing-based publishing house. The first literary prize, which aims to create an authoritative, influential, ongoing, international dialogue, was won by Wang Zhanhei, a young novelist of the post-90s generation, for her collection of short stories "Air Canon", which was published in March of 2018. The collection is Wang's first published work.
The winner was jointly selected by renowned Chinese author Yan Lianke, Jin Yucheng, Tang Nuo, Xu Zidong and Gao Xiaosong. Xu presented the award on behalf of the judging committee. The commission responsible for the prize awarded Wang the sum of 300,000 yuan (approx. US$43,654), which was donated by Blancpain. The award ceremony was hosted by LEUNG Mantao. Blancpain China brand manager Jack LIAO, and Blancpain China marketing manager Suki ZHANG were also present at the award ceremony.
Wang Zhanhei and Air Canon: a novel that takes place on the streets of day-to-day life
Wang Zhanghei was born in Jiaxing, Zhejiang province in 1991 and graduated from Fudan University's Department of Chinese Language and Literature.
The collection includes eight short stories. The main characters of these novels are members of the generation that preceded her own and who lived on the edge, the "marginal people" as she called them, who neither resonated with today's fast-paced members of the "post-90s generation", nor with the older generation imbued with well-defined traditional values. She describes her unsung "heroes" as "neither very new nor very old" and as "the adherents of yesterday in the 1990s". Unlike many writers of her age, Wang's starting point for creation was not based on the experience of women, but rather on the wider topic of the life that goes on "on the street" and of today's society. The characters in her novels are also notably different from those in novels by writers of previous generations. They do not bear the heavy burdens associated with the earlier generations nor do they verbalize their pain. However, beneath the surface of the characters' jokes and humor, their past experiences are clear.
Wang Zhanghei is, at present, the head teacher of a 12th grade class, and she asked for two days leave to attend the awards ceremony. She said that, at the outset she doubted that the topic of "Air Canon" would be that compelling and thought it too unstructured, but during her journey to write about the "street heroes" that she encountered, she began to feel more confident in her creation and in its ability to be an interesting tale and one that would attract a wider audience. Wang explained that the collection derived from a plan that she drafted and called "street heroes," something that she had started and then continued to work on for four to five years. The second volume in the "plan", Street Creek, has recently been published.
The Blancpain-Imaginist Literary Prize: to create a meaningful and tangible way to recognize contemporary young writers
The Blancpain-Imaginist Literary Prize is meant for authors under the age of 45 who have published a novel in Simplified Chinese in mainland China during the past year. During the past six months since the award was launched in March, nearly 100 entries have been submitted. On August 15, the commission of the literature prize announced 13 entries on its shortlist. The final list was announced on September 1st, with five works from young authors Shuang Xuetao, Wang Zhanhai, Yi Ah, Zhang Yueran And Shen Dacheng shortlisted.
The commission of the Blancpain-Imaginist Literary Prize said the aim of the award is to identify emerging authors who demonstrate potential and possess an obvious desire to continue to create and contribute, to support talented young authors and to promote contemporary Chinese literature that is both literary yet accessible to a wide audience in terms of readability.
"A serious, formal, and ongoing awards program for young writers in China simply did not exist, hence the need for its creation" said Yan Lianke, one of the judges. "I think this award will certainly serve to fill this gap in terms of rewarding literary creation in China and continue to do so. The special situation in the Chinese literary community is that the oldest generation of authors stand in the way of those now entering middle age, while those entering middle aged stand in the way of the younger new entrants. In this respect, this award will not only create a place where young authors can stand and be seen, but eventually help some on the path to becoming great writers."
"Great literature increasingly needs a reward system that remains independent of the commercial market, as the content of such literature may run counter to and even be antithetical to market forces," said judge Tang Nuo when talking about his expectations surrounding the award. "At this point, we need another way. Literary prizes can play such a role, saving some books from the increasingly powerful and decisive force of the market."
"We see that literature will never lose its vitality and charisma, just as mechanical watches will never be replaced by quartz and digital ones," said Suki ZHANG, the Blancpain China marketing manager, when talking about the original intention of the award and the joint effort that went into getting it created. "Whether in the field of literature, or other creative fields, the young generation in China is coming into its own, and is quite capable of creating meaningful, great works. On the other hand, they are just as capable of appreciating the achievements of others, whether it be a novel or a premium watch. Blancpain hopes to showcase the brand's worldview, values and aesthetics in these modern times, and help talented, ambitious young individuals thrive and shine."