Thursday, October 20, 2005

Meeting one of Taiwan's greatest writers- Kenneth Pai

It's not everyday you get to meet a great writer, but that's what happened to me this week. On Wednesday I met with Kenneth Pai (白先勇) at his home to discuss some articles I had been working on (long story).

Reading about him, his past, and his accomplishments for the articles made meeting him all that more rewarding.

For someone who has been called "arguably the greatest living Chinese writer", professor Pai was modest, sociable, and only provided limited feedback on the articles. Always smiling he quickly makes you feel comfortable in his prescence as he effortlessly switches between Chinese and English (he taught Chinese Literature at the University of Santa Barbara).

His first love is writing and he has written a number of famous novels many of which have been turned into drama series or movies. Professor Pai's second love is Kunqu Opera and he has been busy promoting a "Modern Version" of the classic The Peony Pavilion. To try and revitalize this dying art form for a modern audience, professor Pai edited the original story from 55 to 27 acts allowing it to be performed in 9 hours as opposed to 20. He also hand picked young, beautiful performers to play the leads instead of going with more experienced, famous performers.

A remarkable man who has experienced huge success embracing his first love, now seeks to do the same with his second.


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