An isolated Danish literary retreat forces four writers to confront the perils of their craft
Author: Sun Wei 孙未
Sun Wei, a member of Shanghai Writers’ Association, has published 23 books including full length novels and short story and essay collections focusing on contemporary Chinese urban life. She is also a member of the Baltic Sea Literature Centre in GÖteborg, Sweden, and participated in the Shanghai/Cork literature residency in Cork, Ireland in 2011, among other residencies. These experiences have become a source of inspiration for her writing. She won the Excellence Award at the Chinese Writers’ Erdos National Literature Awards in both 2013 and 2016. Her work has been translated and published in English, French, Spanish, Bulgarian, Hungarian, and other languages.
In the summer of 2014, I did not die at Blue Lake Manor.
Yes, this was in Denmark, but it had no connection with Copenhagen. The location of this writing center in the western forests relative to the big city was like Inner Mongolia to Shanghai—and not the capital of Inner Mongolia, but a yurt sitting on the grassland 20 kilometers away from the Xilingol League. The heads of most of the European charitable foundations believed that if you raised your arms, and threw a writer so far that you couldn’t hear the sound of them landing, their inspiration would rebound from that mysterious distance, like something that happens at a séance.
I don’t want to go into the details of how, after getting off the plane, I spent 11 hours changing trains, taking a bus, and by some miracle, finding the place where the writers from different countries met up. I just want to say that at midnight, when we finally got in the car provided by the center director and were driven to the manor, and saw this absurdly luxurious house standing alone in the wilderness, we all sighed in unison.
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Fiction: Escapades at Blue Lake Manor is a story from our issue, “The Good Life.” To read the entire issue, become a subscriber and receive the full magazine. Alternatively, you can purchase the digital version from the App Store.