We had the luck of having Zhang Lijia, a published writer, speak to us and talk about her memoir, ‘Socialism is Great!’
After her visit, this was the conclusion I drew: Zhang Lijia is a wonderful person, but I don’t find her interesting as a writer in the slightest. Don’t get me wrong- I both respect and am in awe of the accomplishments that she has achieved in her life, and I am sure what she had gone through in her life required passion and courage that I have yet to possess. But, that’s the thing. I didn’t take anything away from her that I didn’t already know. From her past, it is obvious that she has thrown off the yolk of oppression, fighting for her rights, involving herself in the world, but I can’t help but react to that with a resounding ‘eh’. Perhaps I should stop being so overtly cynical about this entire experience, but I just feel as though, while she has broken out of the ties that had bound her when she was younger, she did it in a rather cookie-cutter, cliched way. Where’s the drama? The deep-seated insecurity? The pain and desolation of discovering the harsh edges of reality? The irreversible mistakes? I suppose you could say I was expecting something different. More Stephen King-esque. I realize I sound terrible for saying this, because it’s not her fault at all. I’m glad that she didn’t have to struggle through this emotional turmoil (but it certainly makes a more interesting story). Perhaps I simply didn’t look close enough?
It’s definitely more than a little bit unfair to expect that every single writer that comes along has an earth-shattering and unique history and will enlighten us ‘inferior folk’ with the insights only a ‘tortured’ writer can, but that doesn’t stop me from feeling a little bit disappointed.
She’s a lovely woman, but she has that run-of-the-mill ‘writer’ story. It’s harsh to say, but I guess I had hoped for a little more.