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Last Updated: Monday, 7 March, 2005, 17:06 GMT
Author Mian Mian challenges China
Mian Mian
Mian is known as "the bad girl of Chinese literature"
Chinese author Mian Mian has outlined what she sees as her artistic mission in her home country, where her work had been widely banned.

Censors outlawed the publication of Mian Mian's breakthrough novel Candy - a depiction of sex and drugs amongst the youth of two major cities - five years ago, although this did not prevent it becoming an underground hit.

However, Mian Mian's latest novel, Panda Sex, has received tacit approval. Mian Mian says censorship in China was once a major difficulty but that artists such as herself have pushed the boundaries of what is acceptable in the rapidly-developing country.

"It's very difficult for me as a writer and artist," she told BBC World Service's The Ticket programme.

"It's also very difficult for other artists. All we can do is make the road easier for the next generation. This is our fate."

Cultural breakthroughs

Candy was banned in April 2000, having become a bestseller on release, with a large number of pirate copies produced. The content, described as depicting "cruel youth," focused on the lives of young people in Shanghai and Shenzhen.

Shortly afterwards, the authorities banned the rest of her work.

Paul Oakenfold
Mian organised the Great Wall party with Paul Oakenfold
Mian Mian is calling for Chinese people to allow art to flourish in their country.

"I want a change in the situation, I want a creative new culture. Because of my name I cannot do any promotion, but I believe if people want to, they will find my book in some way," she says.

Candy was translated into a number of languages, including English, French, Spanish and Japanese.

Mian Mian says many people have told her the Chinese ban has brought good publicity for her book overseas - but this is not her priority.

"I'm sorry, I'm Chinese - I care about my Chinese readers, that they can read my book," she says.

Mian Mian is credited with a number of breakthroughs in Chinese literature.

She claims to have been the first to write about both drug use and depression. She is also the country's only female party co-ordinator, having organised two major events with UK DJ Paul Oakenfold - including one at the Great Wall of China.

Meanwhile Panda Sex - generally described as a more mature effort than her previous work - is about relationships, in particular open relationships.

She said it was based on the idea that people in these relationships "do not have that much sex when they're together - they have sex with others - so they're like a panda couple".

'Live today'

Mian Mian's work is intended to reflect the fears and feelings of many young people in China.

"I write about the feelings of life - from my life, my friends, my city," she says.

People in Shanghai
Candy reflected the fears of China's young

The "beautiful experiences" in her books are fiction, while the "hardcore stuff" is based on her own life, she adds.

In Candy, Mian Mian tackles the subject of depression for the first time in Chinese literature because she wanted people to believe depression was common and not something to be scared of or hidden

"It's just like you've got a cold. I give people hope through my experience," she says.

Mian Mian is now less concerned about China's future.

"Before, I used to say the future is the beautiful thing, look to the future," she says.

"Now I don't say that - I think it's better to just live today, who cares about tomorrow?"

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