• New focus on old age

    From april@21:1/5 to All on Wed Sep 25 02:50:45 2019
    Have a read : New focus on old age.

    https://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201802/23/WS5a8f681fa3106e7dcc13d80a_1.html https://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201802/23/WS5a8f681fa3106e7dcc13d80a_2.html https://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201802/23/WS5a8f681fa3106e7dcc13d80a_3.html

    New focus on old age
    By Mei Jia | China Daily | Updated: 2018-02-23 08:00

    Writer Zhou Daxin deals with the issue of senility in his latest book
    Getting Old Slowly. [PHOTO BY ZHANG WEI/CHINA DAILY]

    Zhou Daxin's latest novel takes on a growing problem for Chinese society -
    and he deals with it in his inimitable style. Mei Jia reports.

    When Uncle Xiao gets together with his peers to celebrate his 86th birthday, his live-in nurse Zhong Xiaoyang feels she is at an international summit -
    with simultaneous interpreters and earphones.

    And, the old pals' top agenda is how to avoid wetting your trousers in the toilet.

    Uncle Xiao, a retired court judge, has lost his only daughter, his hearing
    and even half of his eyesight, and he is confined to a wheelchair.

    But the protagonist of the latest novel Getting Old Slowly by established writer Zhou Daxin, Xiao gradually realizes that he is not alone.

    The novel, which is an intense story of realism, scientific vision and fantasies, is probably the first contemporary Chinese fiction that deals
    with the topic of aging people in the country.

    "We're either already old, or will be old. It's an inevitable part of human life. I hope the book can offer some tips to people," Zhou said after the book's official release at the Beijing Book Fair recently.

    "By looking directly at the issue through my writing, I feel my own fear of aging dispelled," he added.

    The 66-year-old writer examines social reality with his unique take: realism with an avant-garde twist.

    His focus on corruption of high-level officials through his eighth novel The Curtain Drops, The Man Stays, published in 2015, was acknowledged on Jan 13 with the Fourth Publishing Governmental Prize, an award given every three years.

    It is based on the case of the former senior military official Gu Junshan,
    who was Zhou's neighbor.

    The writer is a retired military official, and Gu's case was known to him.

    Gu gained notoriety for building a "replica" of the Palace Museum in his hometown in Puyang, in Henan province.

    "I was really shocked that a man could be so greedy to take so much from the people he was supposed to serve and guard," Zhou says.

    In his latest novel, his ninth, Zhou features seven lectures in a park.

    In the first four, Zhou talks about a robot nurse, an ecological nursing
    home, and re-experiencing youth through technology.

    And in the next three, Zhong, the live-in nurse, focuses on Xiao from the
    age of 73 to 86.

    Zhou says that by 2050, there will be one person above the age of 60 for
    every three Chinese.

    "The aging population is becoming a problem. Currently we're relying on
    family members to deal with it, but society should be aware of the
    challenge, and provide more nursing organizations, community doctors and the like," Zhou adds.

    Official data show that by the end of 2016, China had 230 million people
    older than 60, accounting for 16.7 percent of the total population. Of that number, about 150 million are older than 65.

    "I witnessed the changes of my mother from the age of 90 to 92. She
    gradually seemed to recognize nobody close to her. And she could not
    recognize me," Zhou says.

    The effects of Alzheimer's disease are often not spotted by caretakers in
    the early stages.

    Zhou says he himself was struck by sudden hearing loss, as his protagonist experienced.

    In the book, other issues like choosing wheelchairs, getting married, and seeking medicines for longevity are also featured, making it more like an "encyclopedia on senility".

    Zhou says his pace of life has slowed down over the years due to personal setbacks.

    In 2008, when he won the prestigious Mao Dun Literature Prize for View of
    the Lake and Hill about a rural girl, he lost his only son at the age of 29
    to brain cancer.

    "Then, I felt incapable of doing anything, seeing my son standing in front
    of me anywhere I went," he says.

    "I decided to write something, but I soon found that re-telling the
    experience was even more heart-breaking."

    He spent three years on his seventh novel Requiem, a dialogue between a
    father and a son who has passed away.

    "Sometimes, I could only write a couple of hundreds words a day," Zhou says.


    Commenting on Zhou's work, literary critic Li Jingze says: "Zhou's writing
    has kept up with his life, which is something easier said than done. He's
    not only creating novels, he's also exploring life's truths."

    As for Zhou, he says: "Stepping out of middle age, sometimes you just feel lonely and full of pain, with people who surrounded you gradually scattered away. Actually, it's not only middle age. Every phase of life has its own
    pains and struggles."

    Speaking about the response of publishers, he says: "Many were cautious
    about a book on growing old."

    Ying Hong, an editor with the People's Literature Publishing House that publishes Zhou's works, says the novel is a prompt and in-depth look at the aging problem in the country.

    Also, through the narrator, Zhou looks at migration workers in cities; and through Xiao's daughter, and her failed marriage, he focuses on patients suffering from depression.

    Zhou even quoted Israeli bestselling writer Yuval Harari and his Homo Deus:
    A Brief History of Tomorrow in the book.

    In Zhou's living room, there's a calligraphy work of his motto that reads: "Born in a farmer's house, grew up in the fields, I still cherish the memory
    of hard labor, and remember where my roots lie."

    Zhou was born in 1952 into a rural family in Dengzhou, Henan province.

    After completing high school, he joined the People's Liberation Army in

    "I experienced famine at 8. I just wanted to escape the poverty and I knew I would get fed in the army," he says.

    Zhou, who graduated from Xi'an Institute of Politics in 1985, started to publish his literary works in 1979.

    So far, the author whose books have been translated into French, German, Spanish and other languages, has written 6 million words.

    His novella The Fragrant Oil Mill by the Lake of Scented Souls has been
    turned into a movie - Woman Sesame Oil Maker - and won the Golden Bear prize
    at the 1993 Berlin International Film Festival.

    As for literary figures who inspire him, he says: "It is Russian writer Leo Tolstoy who leads me. His books show how love can support many things."

    Critic Liang Hongying says: "He's hopeful, and he's sending out positive messages."

    However, Zhou says: "I have my sense of mission and I'm working to boost the national spirit.

    "Getting old is like the day's getting dark in the summer, slowly. Every
    heart needs to be lightened up by love and care."


    Major works by Zhou Daxin

    Zhou Daxin works extremely hard on the structure of his novels.

    "If it's not special enough, I wouldn't start writing," says Zhou.

    The works are a result of his tough life, he says. Some of his more famous titles are:

    Twentieth Act (1998)

    Zhou spent 10 years on this tale of the Shang family producing silk in
    Central China, spanning the 20th century. It's one of his favorite works. He finished another novel, The 21 Building, after that, featuring urban

    Legends of the War (2003)

    The book tells a legend of a Mongolian woman in the Ming Dynasty
    (1368-1644), about her being a spy seeking revenge for her lost lover.

    View of the Lake and Hill (2006)

    Nuan Nuan returns from Beijing to her home village to take care of her
    mother. Disregarding the pursuit of a powerful man there, she marries her sweetheart. But their love doesn't last.

    Requiem (2012)

    Zhou seeks peace of mind through a dialogue between a father and his son in heaven. Zhou imagines life after death.

    The Curtain Drops, The Man Stays (2015)

    The novel targets corruption of senior officials, or the "tigers". And throughout the book, the corrupt official doesn't show up. The novel is
    based on 27 interviews with people related to him, a newspaper report and
    lists of items from his bank safe.


    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)