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Fair event’s outreach: Storytelling goes across cultures

SUN YE, April 08. 2014

Skyscrapers, software and digital devices are similar across the globe. But while the world becomes more homogenized, there's an equally strong counterforce seeking the roots and characters of different cultures.

That force is so powerful that StoryDrive Asia, the Frankfurt Book Fair's allmedia platform event that starts on May 28 in Beijing, has singled out crosscultural storytelling — stories that shape us — for its 2014 theme.

"Everywhere we go, there is the unmistakable craving for stories from a foreign culture. All the while the world's getting globalized," says Holger Volland, vice president of Frankfurt Book Fair.

That hunger is especially evident in the case of China.

"The need for Chinese stories is so palpable. It's true even in other Asian countries," Volland says.

Not just any Chinese stories, but ones that go to the extreme.

"For one, we're especially interested in understanding the country's old, traditional values, which are alien to us and therefore interesting and meaningful," Volland says.

To get China's time-honored wisdom across, StoryDrive is having Yu Dan, the Beijing Normal University scholar who studies and parses the Analects of Confucius, to share her way of translating the text from 2,500 years ago.

Yu has been known for her TV program about the ancient wisdom of Confucius in today's world and has had her works translated in more than 30 countries.

The other heavyhitter for Germans is the ultramodern, megametropolis in China today.

"For us, the first thing that hit us in China is the scale, the sheer size of its modernity," Volland says. "It has felt Western influence but has turned out entirely differently."

To help the world grasp the ins and outs of China's vigorous urban culture, Guo Jingming, the controversial writer, film director and popculture icon,will speak at StoryDrive.

"China has maintained a common identity, culture and market in spite of its giant size and the conflicts along theway," Volland says. "There is a lesson for us somewhere in that."

For the Chinese, lessons have also come from the unfamiliar.

"The two countries read differently," says Gong Yingxin, director of the German Book Information Center in Beijing. "The German style of language is drastically different from that of Mo Yan. Even children are reading differently — Chinese books are more loud and bright, while German children's books are muted and a little dark in color."

"So we need to explain to each other our likes and dislikes," Gong says. "In that sense, crosscultural storytelling is a must."

StoryDrive Asia will be held at the China National Convention Center from May 28 to June 1, with keynote speeches and panel discussions that cover multimedia crosscultural communication in China, Japan, South Korea and other countries. The fiveday event will be held in association with the China International Fair for Trade in Services.

(Source: Click Here)