Weiches Begräbnis

Fang Fang | Michael Kahn-Ackermann

Weiches Begräbnis, Photo: Silke Briel

Jury’s comment

Literature from Asia that doesn’t rush to conform to Western narrative patterns – that alone is reading bliss. The author wrote the much-discussed Wuhan Diary. Her novel Weiches Begräbnis (Soft Burial) was initially a great success in China and then suddenly fell out of favor. A woman has managed to suppress the trauma of Mao’s land reform until old age, when her upstart son, a successful manager, provides her with the comfort of her own home. Overwhelmed by the sudden luxury, she falls into a stupor. Now the novel’s characters go in search of clues to understand her breakdown. This is accompanied by the narrator in a long, quiet narrative flow – non-psychological realism, unassuming and insistent. What results is the epic of a little old woman, helplessly shaken to the core by world history; moving for readers far beyond China.

– Robin Detje, jury

Fang Fang, © Wu Baojian

Author: Fang Fang

Fang Fang writes novels, novellas, short stories and essays. In 2016 she published the novel 软埋 (Soft Burial), for which she was awarded the prestigious Lu Yao Prize, and which has since disappeared from the Chinese market. In 2020, 武汉日记 (Wuhan Diary) was published. She has lived in Wuhan since she was two years old.

Michael Kahn-Ackermann, © private

Translator: Michael Kahn-Ackermann

Michael Kahn-Ackermann studied sinology at the LMU Munich and in Beijing. In 1988 he was founding director of the Goethe-Institut Beijing. He translates from Chinese, most recently All Under Heaven by Zhao Tingyang and Fang Fang’s Wuhan Diary (2020). Kahn-Ackermann lives in Nanjing.