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Fantasy writer, Neil Gaiman to produce his version of the Monkey King

Neil Gaiman, of American Gods and Coraline fame, is working on his own version of the Chinese classic, Journey to the West, he told fans at this year’s Hong Kong Literary Festival.

He joined Chinese history professor, Julia Lovell in a virtual presentation last week to discuss appreciation of the epic in the modern context and the character of Sun Wukong, the monkey king.

Mr Gaiman has been working on his new book “Wukong and I” since 2009. He imagines himself joining the Tang monk and Wukong on a pilgrimage to collect the Budhhist scriptures.

“There are many philosophies of life in Journey to the West. For example, the monkey king goes from being weird and rebellious to learning teamwork," Mr Gaiman said. "Although written 500 years ago, people are still so interested in the characters in the book, which shows its greatness," he told his audience.

He first went to China in 2007. “People from all kinds of professions talked to me about Journey to the West, which gave me the initial budding of writing a book of the Monkey King,” Mr Gaiman said.

Since then, he has visited China many times to collect materials and find inspiration. He travelled along the Silk Road, and recorded his experience and strange stories he picked up along the way.

He met Liu Xiaolingtong, an actor who played Monkey in a popular television show in the 1980s. The actor told him that he too hoped the spirit of Monkey can be introduced to the rest of the world

Prof Julia Lovell, has just produced a new translation of an abridged version of Journey to the West.

Li Siyu, a Neil Gaiman fan, told The Young Reporter that she was looking forward to the new book.

"I am so impressed, for example, when Neil Gaiman writes about a child. He would write 'OK, but I want breakfast. I want pancakes. No, I'll have oatmeal. No, I want pancakes.’ Isn't this kind of confused statement just the characteristic of a child? It's so real!” she said.

But a high school Chinese teacher, Xu Ping, an avid fan of Journey to the West, has doubts about the Neil Gaiman adaptation of the Chinese classic.

"I find it strange. Although I really hope that Monkey King, a great character that dates back 500 years ago, will be known to more people and become more international, it is a bit nondescript for a foreigner to adapt China’s four-volume masterpiece," she added, "because this requires an extremely deep understanding of Chinese culture."

《The Young Reporter》

The Young Reporter (TYR) started as a newspaper in 1969. Today, it is published across multiple media platforms and updated constantly to bring the latest news and analyses to its readers.


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