Le suspens a été intense. De deux douzaines de titres est sortie une poignée de cinq ouvrages de laquelle devait n'être retenus qu'un titre et naturellement son auteur. Le moment tant attendu de connaître la réponse du jury du 2007 Man Asian Literary Prize est enfin arrivée. Elle est apparue aujourd'hui sur le site du concours. La voici dans sa version originale :
Hong Kong, 10 November 2007 – A panel of three internationally acclaimed authors and experienced literary judges named Jiang Rong [姜戎] winner of the inaugural Man Asian Literary Prize for the novel Wolf Totem. Adrienne Clarkson, Chair of the judges for the inaugural prize praised Wolf Totem: « A panoramic novel of life on the Mongolian grasslands during the Cultural Revolution, this masterly work is also a passionate argument about the complex interrelationship between nomads and settlers, animals and human beings, nature and culture. The slowly developing narrative is rendered in vivid detail and has a powerful cumulative effect. A book like no other. Memorable. » The prize winner was announced at a celebratory dinner at Cipriani Hong Kong. Jiang Rong was awarded USD 10,000 and the book’s translator, Howard Goldblatt, was awarded USD 3,000.
Jiang Rong est donc le seul des 4 auteurs de langue chinoise dont Mo Yan, à avoir passé avec succès les différents niveaux de cette compétition. Sa réaction a été délivrée par son éditeur chinois, M. Li Bo, Changjiang Publishing. La voici :
« Asia is home to ancient and important cultural traditions. In historical terms, the world is home to four great cultural empires; three had their origins in Asia. The region is a cradle of culture that is unrivalled around the world. As society entered the latter half of the 20th century, Asian nations reemerged, rich and prosperous, walking the various roads towards freedom and democracy, with culture not developing so quickly. Now, with the establishment of the Man Asian Literary Prize, this benevolent organization is able to draw upon richly creative resources, playing a crucial role in supporting cultural exchange around the world. This is a key contribution to future world peace. My story of Mongolia’s wolves is the product of an ongoing study of the Inner Mongolian environment, and interpretation of the meanings behind the natural behavior of animals. Through this story, I also reflect upon the nature of Chinese people. That such a Chinese story can come to the attention of the Man Asian Literary Prize is a great thing. »
Le dossier de presse fournit, outre une photo de Jiang Rong (voir ici), la courte biographie suivante :
Ainsi qu’un synopsis de son roman :
Chinese author Jiang Rong was born in Jiangsu in 1946, and graduated from the middle school attached to China Art College in 1966. In 1967, Jiang joined the first wave of intellectuals who moved to the countryside as volunteers, living with nomadic communities on the Chinese border of Inner and Outer Mongolia for 11 years. Following his return to Beijing in 1978, Jiang embarked on postgraduate studies in political science at the renowned Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and assumed an academic position at a Beijing university. Now retired, he lives in Beijing, with his wife. Wolf Totem is a fictional account of life in the 1970s that draws on Jiang’s personal experience of the grasslands of China’s border region. Translated by Howard Goldblatt, Wolf Totem will be released worldwide by Penguin in March 2008.
It is the final 1960s heyday for the people of the Inner Mongolian grasslands—a time when an age-old balance based on culture and tradition was maintained between the nomads, their livestock, and the wild wolves who roamed the plains. Beijing intellectual Chen Zhen volunteers to live in a remote nomadic settlement on the border of Inner and Outer Mongolia. There, he discovers life of apparent idyllic simplicity based on an eternal struggle between the wolves and the humans in their fight to survive. Chen learns about the rich spiritual relationship, and respect that only equals can feel, that exists between these adversaries. After many years of solitude, his peace of mind is shattered with the arrival of his kinfolk sent from the cities to bring modernity and productivity to the remote grasslands. Once the careful balance between the wolves and humans is disrupted, however, culture and tradition is damaged, and the environment suffers.
On devrait donc reparler de cet auteur et de ce roman dont une traduction française va voir le jour prochainement. Chacun pourra alors se faire une idée de Lang tuteng 狼图腾 et de la pertinence des jugements du jury du Man Asian Literary Prize qu'on retrouvera l'année prochaine pour sa deuxième édition. (P.K.)