‘Sun of Paris’ returns to China, via KoreaFor someone hailed as a literary genius, Shan-sa, 34, talks rather humbly. Born in China, she lives and works in France. She released her first work, a compilation of poems, in China when she was only 9 years old, and put out her first work in French, a novel published in 1997, only seven years after moving to the European country.
The French media has dubbed her “The Sun of Paris.” Her first novel printed in French, “Gate of Celestial Peace,” also received several awards in the country. Her writing style has earned her particular praise. She uses simple, terse statements instead of relying on long, grand sentences. “If European prose is boxing,” she says, “my writing is fencing.”
Reactions from Korean writers have also been positive. Her novel “Empress” has sold over 100,000 copies here, while “The Girl Who Played Go” has been a favorite recommended read for many novelists here. “The Girl Who Played Go,” is set during the Pacific War and “Empress” is based on China’s only empress. Though her stories feature women, they have an air of masculinity.
Shan-sa met a group of reporters at the Hyatt Hotel in Seoul last week during a visit arranged by a Korean publisher. The writer has long seemed to have an interest in Korea; in “The Girl Who Played Go,” for example, the main character goes to a Korean restaurant to eat cold noodles, and says her interests include “Korean food, soccer and movies.” Shan-sa admits, however, that she “has not read any Korean literature.”
JAI: How did you wind up coming to Korea?
San-sha: The filming of “Empress” is taking place in America and Japan. After finishing plans in Japan, I am planning on visiting my home country, China. In between, I was able to visit Korea. This is my first time [here], but I really wanted to come here.
Do you consider yourself Chinese or French?
I’ve been a French citizen for six years. However, my parents still live in China. I go to China once a year. I’m a global citizen.
You’ve been recognized in France for writing novels set in China.
Yes, up until now. However, that is likely to change. I am planning to write a novel based on Alexander the Great. I’m also plotting a science fiction story. My success in France is based on my unique literary style, strong characters and the strength in depicting them.
As a female writer, your novels are full of bold heroes.
Well, “Alexander the Great,” the soon-to-be-published novel, is a romance. He falls in love with an Amazon queen.
by Sohn Min-ho