Li Er: ECNU holds a special place in my heart


Li Er, an ECNU alumnus and one of the most renowned novelists in China, was invited to give a talk on literature and writing in December 2019, on the university’s Minhang campus.

“ECNU has always held a very special place in my heart. It is the education I received here that has enabled me to realize my dream of literature,” Li said.

Li started the talk by recalling his university years at ECNU in the 1980s. He said that he began writing novels at ECNU. “I dreamed about writing novels when I was a little boy. This dream did not come true until I was admitted into ECNU,”said Li. 

Li Er (2nd right ) and his friends in the 1980s.

“At that time, almost everyone in the Department of Chinese Language and Literature was writing novels,” said Li. “Basking in this atmosphere, I started to write as well. Literature was then the fashion of the day in the department.” 

“The department was home to many famous professors, such as Professor Shi Zhecun, Professor Qian Gurong, Professor Xu Zhongyu, Professor Wang Zhiliang, etc.” Li said. “They affected me profoundly with their learning and character.”

In the talk, Li offered some suggestions to students in pursuit of their literary dreams. “Experience life, maintain a feeling for literature, and keep the habit of reading fine literary works. Love of literature and literary works will add interest to your life and inspire you to write down your own words effectively.”

Li Er shares his life experience with students on campus.

Born in 1966, Li Er grew up in Jiyuan City, China’s central Henan province. He became a student of the Department of Chinese Language and Literature of ECNU in 1983. After graduation in 1987, Li taught in a university for several years before he began his writing career at the National Museum of Modern Chinese Literature.

Some of his well-known novels include "Huaqiang [Truth and Variations]", "Cherry on a Pomegranate Tree", and "Brother Yingwu" which won the 10th Mao Dun Literature Prize in 2019. Many of his works have been translated into other languages and published overseas. 

 Brother Yingwu

As the top literary prize in China, the Mao Dun Literature Prize was established in 1981 with an endowment from the Chinese novelist Mao Dun, whose real name is Shen Dehong. The prize has been awarded to many of China’s top novelists, such as Mo Yan, Chinese mainland’s first Nobel Prize winner in literature.

Written by: Yu Wenxi, Li Jing  Proofread by: Joshua Mayfield, Jin Wen


East China Normal University