Barbecue with Yu Hua in a Hangzhou park


Metropolis Express
November 25, 2009

Amid the wall-of-text on the front page of today’s Metropolis Express was this curious headline: “Zhu Deyong invites Yu Hua over for barbecue.”

Zhu, a best-selling comic strip artist from Taiwan, and Yu, a novelist from the mainland, are involved in a “creative industries garden” that occupies a square kilometer carved out of Hangzhou’s Xixi National Wetland Park:

To date, fourteen celebrities, including TV host Yang Lan, cartoonist Zhu Deyong, authors Liu Heng, Yu Hua, and Mai Jia, painters Pan Gongkai and Wu Shanming, artist Cui Wei, and “father of the creative economy” John Howkins, have signed on to reside in the garden.

Confucian scholar Tu Weiming, Japanese artist Yoshitaka Amano, Hollywood director Pitof (The Messenger, Mermaid Island [and Catwoman!]), and French Association of Sculpture and Art chairman Georges Saulterre are currently in talks to move into the garden.

Most of the three-page puff piece was devoted to describing the studios the creative types will occupy in the garden:

Heading west, the first studio in the western section belongs to Zhu Deyong.

The sitting room of the 400-square-meter, two-and-a-half-storey building is enclosed on all sides by glass, and a porch jutting out overlooks the waters of the Xixi.

Yesterday afternoon, Zhu Deyong took his wife and friends, including Yu Hua, to visit his new home. Yu Hua’s own home faces Zhu’s across the water.

“The interior design for this house is going to be strange,” said Zhu. Deliberately mysterious, he refused to disclose the style of the renovations.

“Come and see it when I’m finished remodeling.”

The one thing he would say was that he was thinking of putting cartoons directly onto the walls, because he advocated a life rich in humor.

Standing on the porch, Zhu had a sudden inspiration. He turned to Yu Hua: “Why don’t I put a large stove here? Then I can invite you over for barbecue.”

Yu waved him aside. “No, that’s not any good. There are so many beautiful trees outside, so what would happen when you smoked them all out? The stove should go indoors, and then you can bring out the meat once it’s done cooking.”

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