Over the course of her multifaceted career Xiaolu Guo has explored the boundaries of national identity, cultural exchange and the concept of home amidst diasporic communities. Ahead of her appearance at the Hong Kong International Literary Festival, we talk to her about these themes and how they manifest themselves in her films and her fiction.
Q: You are considered a writer who bridges the gap between Western and Eastern cultures, and who is representative of a new generation of diasporic Chinese. What is your perspective on being labelled like this? And are these themes you purposefully deal with in your work?
A: Well, I live as an artist who chooses to express my feelings from a very personal experience, both in the east and in the west. Given the fact that I’ve barely worked for any institution, and all my work is sort of born from solitary labours, I don’t think that I approach certain themes in a very self-conscious or even an academic way, but certainly I have been dealing with the themes of home, alienation, an individual’s life in ideological environment as well as in a global scale, naturally.
Q: The strength of events such as the Hong Kong International Literary Festival reveals the interest in publishing in Hong Kong. How do you perceive the local publishing industry in Hong Kong? The city’s reputation as a haven for more diverse opinions is engrained in its identity, do you feel this still holds true over 15 years since the handover?
A: I don’t know much about Hong Kong local publishing. Really nowadays we might live in Tokyo or Paris but we publish our work in Germany or in America. I don’t know how we can stick with the locality as we have been moving around so much in this modern life, and lots of writers write in their second language or the language from their adult life. (This is) part of survival instinct, part of integration, which I actually believe will lead to a much more open future.