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Tibetan Writer Alai
    2008-06-16 16:29:28     CRIENGLISH.com

In the national relief efforts to help the earthquake victims of southwestern China, one active participant is from a Chinese ethnic minority, the Tibetan nationality. The successful writer Alai is using the proceeds from the sales of his books to build schools in the earthquake ravaged region. Du Lijun has more.


Alai is one of the most popular writers of Tibetan culture. His novel The Dust Has Settled or Red Poppies has been a bestseller since it was first published in 1998. The novel won a National Mao Dun Literature Prize in 2000, the highest literary award in China. When the massive earthquake hit southwestern China, Alai was with his family in Chengdu, the provincial capital, and the closest major city from the earthquake's epicenter. He recalls the moment when the tremor began. 

"I was at home when the earthquake struck. It was totally unexpected and I was shocked. The tremor was so strong that I felt like I was in a boat being tossed about by a stormy sea. But it has been the touching stories that took place after the disaster that have affected me the most."

Alai first donated part of his book sales to the earthquake area and then began to collect even more money. 

"We are collecting money in order to help rebuild the schools that were hit the hardest in the disaster region. We have collected about 400,000 yuan from our writer friends and are going to use the money to build new schools for the kids in the disaster region."

Alai was born in 1959 into the ethnic minority that inhabits the Ngaba Prefecture in Sichuan Province. He was brought up in a close-knit, ethnic minority family. His mother is Tibetan and his father is from the Hui nationality. Alai says his generous and friendly nature comes from his family life, where different ethnicities lived in harmony. Alai is now the chief-editor of a popular magazine, Science Fiction World. As a writer, Alai says he writes not only for the Tibetans, but for mankind as a whole. 

"We tend to think that different people have different views. But we are humans above all. We are individuals of different races. So we should not always analyze life from an ethnic perspective. Communication would be easier if we could adopt a mankind point of view."

As one of the most popular novelist on Tibetan culture, Alai says he will continue to write about Tibet and the Tibetan people. In 2005, Alai published his novel The Empty Hill after a decade of silence. The Empty Hill is about the life of the last Tibetan hunters and depicts the changes that have taken place in Tibet in the last decades. 

"The Empty Hill consists of three volumes. It is about China's three decades of reform and opening up in Tibet. It's a reflection of the great changes that have taken place in China as a whole. Through the story of a single Tibetan village, I try to reveal the changes that took place throughout the Chinese countryside."

Although a resident of Chengdu, Alai often travels overseas and in Tibet. But the place he loves the most is his hometown, the Ngaba Prefecture. Every year, Alai and his friends spend time living with the local Tibetans. He says he is happy to be with the pure and innocent Tibetans. Alai says, no matter whether rich or poor, the farmers and herdsmen are content and lead a happy life.



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