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We All Change into Somebody Else: In Acceptance of the 2015 Newman Prize for Chinese Literature

By Chu T’ien-wen

Translated by Ping Zhu

Upon being awarded the 2015 Newman Prize for Chinese Literature, Chu T’ien-wen gave the following acceptance speech at the award ceremony on March 6, 2015, at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. In her speech, Chu uses the mythological narrative to tackle the perennial question between reality and literature. Quoting Calvino, Chu tells the audience that reality is like Medusa’s head, but different writers treat this monstrous head differently—some use it as a weapon and some change it into beautiful corals.

Watch Chu T’ien-wen’s acceptance speech, and other videos from the 2015 Newman Award Banquet, at the website of the OU Institute for US-China Issues.


First, like all other laureates, I thank the host of the Newman Prize, the Institute for US-China Issues at the University of Oklahoma, and the Newman jurists.

I am truly grateful to the Newman Prize for Chinese Literature, because until now, I had never imagined that I would fly from a distant subtropical island to this continent to join this banquet with all of you. The Chinese word yuanfen 緣分 describes the convergence of various causes and conditions. At this time, in this space, not sooner, not later, it happens precisely here and now. Our meeting is one such amazing convergence, and I am thankful for it.

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