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The Narrative of Ringing Down
Li Xiaoluo’s novel The Narrative of Ringing Down was published by Jiangsu Phoenix Literature and Art Publishing at the end of September 2020.
Li Xiaoluo is a writer of the new generation. She learned professional dancing in her childhood. After graduation from college, she studied drama, music, and literature in Tokyo, Stockholm, and Copenhagen. Since 2008, she has published two albums titled Yulanting Street and Land of Prosperity, leading her to the Golden Melody Award. In recent years, Li Xiaoluo started her career in writing. After three years of endeavor, her first novel was born.
When first reading The Narrative of Ringing Down, one might encounter a sense of speciosity, but finally confirmed by her innovative narrative style of the new generation. Modern Chinese literature started from introduction, annotation, and imitation of Western literature. Based on that, the authors of the old generation creatively formed their own style of narratives. However, the new generation didn’t inherit from their precursors. Thus, the literary arena went from bad to worse. Li Xiaoluo echoes such a critique in her book. She argues that all narratives in the 1980s have rung down the curtain, exemplified by the decline in desire, scar, fortune, barbarousness, rapid urbanization, and counter-urbanization. She insists that new narratives of the era must be called for. Her seemingly ambitious calling reflects the cultural confidence of the time. When China enjoys economic growth, Chinese residents no longer concerns about the material or spiritual scarcity. Growing up in a prosperous era, the young generation has “lower” desires than their parents and grandparents. Li Xiaoluo asserts that it is not the desire of the new generation turns lower; it is the desire of the old generation gets exaggerated and distorted. Therefore, when the desire of the young generation goes to normal, it is misunderstood as going “lower”. In line with this logic, Li Xiaoluo critiques isms from the last century, such as the ocean and blue civilization, the land civilization, the science of success, and the social evolutionism.
The novel is about stories of one old generation, Wang Yifan, who came back from Southeast Asia, and one new generation, Ji Nan. The two generations intertwine in her novel, showing the readers a historical memory of both familiarity and unfamiliarity. The book is divided into three chapters of the past, the present, and the future, narrated by Wang Yifan, the author herself, and Ji Nan, respectively. They intriguingly tell about the quarrel on a ferry in Shanghai and the folk religion in an unknown mountainous area. They also describe the mysterious ladybird, the stalking lameter, and the floating clouds. You never know how these images are connected if you take a classic literary account; however, everything is connected in Li Xiaoluo’s new literary account. Literature is growing, changing, and expanding. Li Xiaoluo does not play with grand narratives, nor does she look upon grand narratives. Rather, she glances at the world in aloofness. Her tone is as charming as she herself is. Truly, a new generation of the narrative is coming. The aesthetic of the old generation is ringing down. The children are growing up. New toys are only for the future, not for the past.