Aged 64, from a wealthy family of intellectuals, Fang Fang is a well-known novelist in her country, where she won the most prestigious literary prize in 2010. But since his daily story of confinement in Wuhan in early 2020, published in France by Stock editions under the title Wuhan, ville close, it is the target of Chinese ultra-nationalists and sidelined from cultural life. “I can’t post anything anymore“, she told franceinfo.
franceinfo: Your quarantine diary, written in full confinement in Wuhan, epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic, has been talked about around the world. Since then, it has earned you threats on the internet, and some form of banishment. Why ?
Fang Fang: I know who is behind these online attacks and why they were launched. I find it all ridiculous. Such methods are very close to those used during the Cultural Revolution, and they correspond exactly to what ultra-nationalists expect. They keep pushing for a new cultural revolution. This cyberviolence is scandalous, it will remain as a shame in history. How could I have not been angry and not hurt when the officials chose to let it go?
“It shows how deeply rooted ultra-nationalists are in China and especially among government officials.”
From now on, I can no longer publish anything in a review or a magazine, my novels can no longer appear here in China and it is out of the question that I am invited to participate in any literary event. This is the first time this has happened to me since 1982, when I started publishing.
In time, everyone will understand that the slanders and injuries I have suffered are based only on lies.
In Wuhan, ville close, you relate facts, but also your impressions. What is left in you?
It is still very heavy. I have lived in Wuhan for over sixty years. So I know, near or far, a lot of people. I kept hearing about deaths around me, which affected me a lot. Especially since the news of all these deaths fell almost all at the same time. For the families of the victims, the scars will remain for life.
“I think of all those deceased people who failed to seek treatment and who died without any psychological preparation, not imagining for a moment that they would not survive.”
At the start of the epidemic, the information lacked transparency. People lived in anguish. But on the first day of the New Year, I learned that a medical team had just arrived from Shanghai. A considerable number of officials have been mobilized to provide assistance to the inhabitants. Thanks to strict isolation and more effective treatment, the number of sick people has decreased and the number of recoveries has increased. In the middle and at the end of the epidemic, the organization and the presence of numerous volunteers proved their effectiveness. Things have gradually returned to order in Wuhan.
As experts from the World Health Organization arrive in Wuhan to investigate the origins of the pandemic, what situation is your city in?
In appearance, the city is back to how it was before. Shopping centers and restaurants have reopened. We go out to eat with friends and don’t wear masks on the street. But some things, less visible, will never come back. Small stalls, for example, which have closed, people who have died. The mentality of many people, including myself, has also changed.
After any disaster, there are always happy survivors and unfortunate castaways. On the ins and outs of this disaster, giving an explanation to the people is absolutely necessary.