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Readers relishing Cao Wenxuan's latest novel

Updated: 2016-07-27 07:27
By Mei Jia (China Daily)

Readers relishing Cao Wenxuan's latest novel

Chinese author Cao Wenxuan recently releases his new novel, The Eye of the Dragonfly. Photos provided to China Daily

Oceane, a French girl, met Du Meixi, a Chinese sailor, at a cafe in Marseilles in 1925 and followed him to Shanghai to inherit his family's silk business nearly 15 years later.

But as war and hunger invaded their lives, the couple tried to deal with the situation with as much dignity as possible, finally departing during the "cultural revolution" (1966-76).

This is from The Eye of the Dragonfly, a novel by Cao Wenxuan, who is the first winner of the Hans Christian Andersen Award from China. The novel debuted in People's Literature magazine in June and was published more recently as an individual book by Phoenix Juvenile and Children's Publishing.

The story has been in the author's mind for long.

The market reacted zealously to Cao's new work. More than 600 copies of the magazine signed by the author were booked within a month, editors from People's Literature say.

"I'm a bit overwhelmed with the many interviews and events since returning from Bologna (the Italian city where the international award for children's literature was announced), but I'm trying to fulfill some of the appointments I made before that trip," Cao says.

Oceane's granddaughter A Mei is featured as the main character in the novel. To her, granny is a "typical Shanghai-style elegant elderly lady who speaks and even bargains in the local dialect, but once she smiles, she returns to being a French lady".

"Cao's work shows that children's perspectives are not shallow, and that they experience the same cruelty, fear and depth of life as us (adults)," says Eric Abrahamsen, editor of Pathlight, the magazine's English version.

The story, spanning some 40 years, begins in the French port city and moves to Shanghai, where it is largely set, and later to Yibin, a riverside town along the Yangtze River in Southwest China's Sichuan province.

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