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Online reading and discussion: Science Fiction Literature from China - The Waste Tide by Qiufan CHEN

Dec 02, 2021 | 07:00 PM - 08:30 PM

Hosted by the Confucius Institute Heidelberg, this event is presented within the framework of the Joint Center’s Pandemic Readings Series as part of the project "Epochal Life Worlds: Man, Nature and Technology in Narratives of Crisis and Change".

Pandemics and Dystopias - Contemporary Literary Voices from China and the Sinophone World

Science Fiction Literature from China - The Waste Tide by Qiufan CHEN

Frederike Schneider-Vielsäcker and Chiara Cigarini in conversation.

Reading: Johanna Withalm

Talk and discussion in English, Reading in German


Silicon Island is the novel debut of contemporary Chinese science fiction writer Qiufan CHEN. The dystopian narrative is inspired by the devastating conditions in Chen's home province of Guangdong, where toxic electronic waste from around the world is recycled. On the eponymous Silicon Island in southern China, which has become barely habitable due to toxic fumes, life is dominated by local clans, Chinese authorities and international power politics. Oppressed and marginalized as "garbage people," the migrant workers rebel against the elite. The rebellion is led by Mimi, who transforms into a posthuman being after a viral infection. Set in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, the conditions described in the science fiction novel seem frighteningly real. Read more



Frederike Schneider-Vielsäcker, born in 1986, studied Asian Studies at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn and Chinese Studies at the Seminar for East Asian Studies at Freie Universität Berlin, where she also worked as a research assistant from 2014 to 2018. Her dissertation focuses on socio-political discourses in contemporary Chinese science fiction literature. From 2017 to 2020, she was an editor at Kapsel, the first German journal for Chinese science fiction literature, and co-organized a series of events with renowned science fiction authors from China. She joined the Institute of Sinology at Heidelberg University in 2020. In addition to science fiction literature, her research focuses on queerness and feminism in China and Taiwan.


Dr. Chiara Cigarini is a researcher and translator, currently working at Ca'Foscari University in Venice, where she previously studied Sinology. Her PhD on contemporary Chinese science fiction literature was supervised by the scholar and science fiction writer Wu Yan, renowned in the field, at Beijing Normal University. Her research focuses particularly on the experimental texts of science fiction author Han Song. She translated a short story by Wu Yan into Italian for the bilingual Chinese science fiction anthology Nebula. In China, she works closely with the Research Center for Science and Human Imagination at the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, and in Italy with the independent publisher Future Fiction.

About the author:

Qiufan Chen, born in 1981 in Guangdong Province, PR China, is one of the best-known and multi-award-winning science fiction authors of the younger generation. His award-winning debut novel The Silicon Island was published in Chinese in 2013 and in German in 2019. After studying film and literature at the prestigious Peking University, he worked at Google and Baidu. He published his first short story in China's largest science fiction magazine Kehuan Shijie (The World of Science Fiction) in 1997. His style is called "science fiction realism" because his stories depict real life realities. His science fiction has been translated into many languages.

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