Very happy to read the following article in China Daily.
Ms. Feng and her daughter are all very close family, so were her late father and husband.
See here picture taken with her and her daughter along with our family earlier this year. Search in this blog for Zong Pu to find earlier entries.
3 December 2009 – Author, 81, releases long-awaited book
By Yi Selie (China Daily)
After waiting anxiously for nine years, fans of Chinese author Zong Pu were thrilled to hear that the 81-year-old writer has published the third of her four-novel series, Prelude of Wild Calabash (Ye Hu Lu Yin).
Most introductions of the writer, whose real name is Feng Zhongpu, invariably begin with her father Feng Youlan (1895-1990), one of the most important philosophers and educators in modern Chinese history. Indeed, a lot of her writing has been about her prestigious family.
The Tale of Marching West (Xi Zheng Ji), published by People’s Literature Publishing House, in May, again proves that Zong Pu is an outstanding writer whose eloquent language is rarely seen in today’s literary world and whose patriotism never fails to move readers.
Set in the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1937-45), the series revolves around the lives of teachers and students of the National Southwestern Associated University (Xinan Lianda), which was founded in Kunming, Yunnan province, and modeled after the Peking, Tsinghua and Nankai universities.
The series can be seen as an autobiography, with the author as Mei, the second daughter of Meng Yue, a professor of history, who is clearly based on the author’s father.
The book describes a dangerous time in the nation’s history and brings alive a period which would otherwise hold little interest to today’s young readers.
The previous two books, Tale of Wading to the South (Nan Du Ji) and Tale of Hiding in the East (Dong Cang Ji) were completed in 1987 and 2000 and have already won the nation’s most coveted Mao Dun Literature Award.
They invoke the horrors the invaders inflicted and the scholars’ reactions: Some became traitors and amassed fortunes, some remained in classrooms bombed by the Japanese, while others went to the battle front.
The third book is more exciting as the narrative is no longer confined to campus life but is expanded to cover farmers, chefs, generals, gorilla fighters, minority chieftains and Allied Forces officers.
It details how the heroic Flying Tigers and other American volunteers helped the Chinese regain control of the transportation line linking China with Southeast Asia.
Mei joins other students to go to the battlefield and becomes a nurse. Once, she is swept away by floods and is saved by a girl of the Dai minority. The two hide in the deep mountains and witness the crash of a fighter jet. They try to save American officer Benjamin Paine’s life, but the lack of medicine and continuous rain claims the handsome young man.
Mei’s cousin Weiwei, a top student at the university, worked as translator for American military experts. In a bloody street battle, the American captain dies trying to set up a telephone line. Weiwei dashes into the rain of bullets to complete the task, at the cost of his own life.
There are many memorable characters in the book, like Lao Zhan, a farmer who helps build the roads but goes insane after seeing his wife and son plummet into the Nujiang River with the retreating troops, as a vital bridge is bombed to stop the Japanese.
Then there are the teenagers, Ku Liu and Fu Liu, who miraculously lead the troops to climb impossible precipices and break into the Japanese fort atop Gaoligong Mountain.
The book’s amazing author has pulled through the years despite her deteriorating health and the loss of her father and her husband Cai Zhongde (1937-2004), a music professor and leading researcher on Feng Youlan.
Relying on her assistants to record her thoughts, Zong Pu has composed some of her best poems based on ancient rhymes. They are sure to test the skills of the best translators.
One can only hope the courageous author will soon finish the last book Tale of Returning to the North (Bei Gui Ji), which will see the teachers and students return to Beijing after the Japanese surrender, and the nation plunge into civil war.