Su Tong’s The Boat to Redemption was 2010’s winner of the Man Asian Literary Prize, Asia’s biggest book prize. His previous novels include Rice, My Life as Emperor and Wives and Concubines which was adapted into the film Raise the Red Lantern by Zhang Yimou.
Why I write
An inner need. Writing gives me another world.
Do you write every day? If so, how many hours?
No. Sometimes I go for a long time without writing. If I’m writing, I write about four, five hours a day.
Worst source of distraction?
When there is a sports program on TV, for example the NBA, world come, European championships, etc.
Best source of inspiration?
Childhood memories and memories of when I was young
How often do get writers’ block/doubt your own ability?
It is rare for me to have writers block. I am, however, often unsatisfied with what I’ve written. I’ve never doubted my writing abilities, even when the writing is not going well.
Contemporary writer in any medium who you never miss?
I really only notice writers in my genre, other novelist. In my mind, the good novelists are Mo Yan, Yu Hua, Wang Anyi.
Favorite Chinese writer?
Cao Xueqin, Lu Xun.
Best book about China?
Dream of the Red Chamber.
Favorite book? Writer?
One Hundred Years of Solitude. Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
The book you know you should have read but haven’t?
There are so many books that fall under this category. It’s not that I haven’t read them, it’s that I never finished reading them, such as Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
You look back at the first thing you had published and think…
The road to being an author is difficult.
Does writing change anything?
You can’t change the world, but at least you can change yourself.