In Person

Conversation with Yan Geling: Unveiling Journeys and Narratives


April 6, 2024
2:00 - 4:00 PM EDT
The event will be conducted in Chinese.

China Institute in America is honored to present an exclusive conversation with the internationally acclaimed author, Yan Geling. Join us for a captivating session where literature meets life, offering insights into the creative world of one of the most distinguished voices in contemporary fiction. Yan Geling will delve into her new book, “Milati,” followed by a conversation with Susan Yuqing Feng, Director of Programs at China Institute.

“Milati” unfolds in the early 1980s in China, capturing a pivotal moment in the life of a twenty-year-old woman name Milati. Leaving her career as a dancer in an army performance troupe, Milati undergoes the most crucial transition in her life: from a passive performer of art, she becomes a young writer who thinks and creates independently. The early eighties setting reflects a major reshuffle of ideas about love, sex, freedom, democracy. People’s perceptions and patterns of behavior change have changed overnight in a subversive way; that which was once impossible becomes possible, and the possibilities seem endless: extramarital love, one-night stands, disco, black-light parties, underground publishing, painting with nude models, and on and on.

Copies of the book (in Chinese language) will be available for purchase on site and can be signed by the author.

This event is in collaboration with SJTUSM Alumni Forum.

This program is made possible through the support of the Chinese International Education Foundation, and generous supporters of China Institute.
This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

China Institute’s cultural programs are made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

Speaker & Moderator

Geling Yan
Geling Yan

Geling Yan (嚴歌苓) is one of the most acclaimed novelists and screenwriters writing in the Chinese language today and a well-established writer in English. Born in Shanghai, she served with the People's Liberation Army (PLA) during the Cultural Revolution, starting at age twelve as a dancer in an entertainment troupe.

After serving for over a decade with the PLA (including tours in Tibet and as a war correspondent during the Sino-Vietnam border conflict), Ms. Yan was discharged with a rank equivalent to Lieutenant Colonel. She published her first novel in 1986 and ever since has produced a steady stream of novels, short stories, novellas, essays and scripts. Her best-known novels in English are The Secret Talker, published by HarperCollins; Little Aunt Crane published in the UK by Random House affiliate Harvill Secker; The Flowers of War, published in the U.S. by The Other Press and elsewhere by Random House's Harvill Secker; The Banquet Bug (The Uninvited in its UK edition - written directly in English); and The Lost Daughter of Happiness, (translated by Cathy Silber) both published by Hyperion in the US and Faber & Faber in the UK. She has also published a novella and short story collection called White Snake and Other Stories, translated by Lawrence A. Walker and published by Aunt Lute Books.

Many of Geling Yan's works have been adapted for film and television, including internationally distributed films Xiu Xiu: The Sent-Down Girl (directed by Joan Chen) and Siao Yu (directed by Sylvia Chang; produced by Ang Lee).   Chinese director Zhang Yimou made The Flowers of War, a big-budget film based on her work set during the 1937 Rape of Nanking, starring Academy Award winning actor Christian Bale; Coming Home 归来, based on her novel The Criminal Lu Yanshi 陆犯焉识, and One Second 一秒钟, also based on that novel.

Ms. Yan has also written numerous scripts based on her own and other authors' work, both in English and Chinese, including a script for a biopic on the iconic Peking opera star Mei Lanfang for director Chen Kaige (released as Forever Enthralled 梅兰芳) starring Leon Lai and Zhang Ziyi.  She wrote the script for Dangerous Liaisons 危險關係, a Chinese-language film directed by South Korean director Hur Jin-ho and starring Zhang Ziyi, Jang Dong Gun and Cecilia Cheung.  Her novel Fang Hua 芳华 is the basis a film of the same name (English title Youth) directed by Chinese director Feng Xiaogang 冯小刚.  Her novel A City Called Macau 妈阁是座城 was made into a film directed by Li Shaohong 李少红, released in 2018.

Geling Yan a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and of France's Société des Gens de Lettres.  She is a member of the Hollywood screenwriters' union, Writers' Guild of America, west, and a former member of the Chinese Writers' Association (中国作家协会).

Susan Yuqing Feng
Susan Yuqing Feng

Susan Yuqing Feng is Director of Programs at China Institute.  Before joining CI, Susan was the Editor in Chief of Bitpush News, a leading block chain media based in New York and a columnist for the Financial Times Chinese Edition. Throughout her journalism career, Susan conducted interviews with a multitude of world economic and political leaders, including Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Alan Greenspan, Paul Volker, President Clinton, Zbigniew Brzeziński, Michael Bloomberg, Thomas Friedman, and many more.  Susan has also directed the documentary series “World Movers”  which was released in March 2018. It illustrated the emerging new world order 70 years after WWII, shedding light on what has changed the U.S. and the world and the forces affecting everyone. It focused on the relationships between technology and globalization, the impact on immigration, and the future of U.S.-China relations.

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