Denied visa, Chinese author makes his presence felt at Kolkata Lit Meet via Skype


After Salman Rushdie, Chinese writer Hao Qun, popularly known as Murong Xuecon — his pen name — was missed at the Kolkata literary meet. Murong was to address the media on Thursday, but failed to turn up as he was allegedly denied visa to India. However, like his writings that seeped through Chinese government censorship with the help of the Internet, Murong interacted with the audience through Skype.

Murong's translator and publisher Harvey Thomlison said, "He wasn't actually refused visa, but they delayed it till it never happened. I was told that the delay was caused from India's end, though most of his controversies are in China. I personally feel that the Indian government is afraid of offending China. It's a shame because he has been given visa across the world."

Murong said he was not surprised about being barred from coming to India. "He has been living in so much censorship in China that he is used to it, but he is happy that the Internet has proved to be his friend," Thomlison translated Murong's statement.

Commenting on Rushdie being refused entry to Kolkata, Murong said, "I am surprised that he's not welcome in his own country. India needs more writers like him who are not afraid of speaking their mind."

Murong's novel, Leave Me Alone: A Novel of Chengdu, is about a group of young people. The book talks about their pressure and challenges, and corruption, sex and bribery in China. He portrayed a dark picture of society in the book and was forced to edit a huge chunk of it. "For example, in this book there is a phrase, 'Indian flavoured fart', which was edited because it was supposed to be diplomatically sensitive," said Murong.

Replying to whether he would like to continue staying in China, Murong said, "Yes, it is difficult with censorship, but there is also satisfaction and joy in writing, and as long as I can publish my work it doesn't matter where I stay. But if someday I am not allowed to publish my work, I will come to India."

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