Modern twist on ancient legends

Artwork by British illustrator Cherry Denman for The Legend of Liya, by Hong Ying

Artwork by British illustrator Cherry Denman for The Legend of Liya, by Hong Ying

“Ancient legends get a modern twist thanks to a popular novelist from Chongqing. Xing Yi reports.

Hong Ying left her hometown, Chongqing, at a young age, but the novelist and poet returns to the southwestern city of China again and again in her books – from her well-known autobiography Daughter of the River to her latest work, The Legend of Liya.

Published earlier this month, the story is the second installment of a fairy-tale series based on the myth of Ba, an ancient state that covered the area of what is now the Chongqing municipality, some 2,000 years ago. The Ba culture was passed down through generations mainly in the form of folklore, and this left a deep impression on Hong.

“On the eve of Spring Festival, our parents will make us leave the dining room and close the door before dinner, saying that the spirit of our ancestors will return to have a meal first,” says Hong.

“We are told that after a person dies, they will return on the third day and seventh day after death, and if you put coal ashes in front of the door, footprints will be found on it the next morning.”

The idea of writing a series of fairy tales came to Hong, who had not written anything in the genre before, when she told mythical stories to her daughter.

The first book of the series, The Girl from the French Fort, was published in August last year. “To my daughter, without whom this story would not exist,” wrote Hong on the dedication page.

“I want to represent and preserve the culture of our ancestors in a new form for our children,” says Hong. […]”

By Xing Yi ( China Daily ) – 6 May, 2015

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