Chinese Literature - Li-hua Ying 2010
METSO (1966— )
METSO (1966— ). Poet, prose and fiction writer. One of the rising stars of Tibetan writers writing in Chinese, Metso grew up in Qinghai Province. Although her writings began to appear in the late 1980s, it is her 1997 novel Taiyang buluo (The Sun Tribe) that made her a national name. The novel depicts two Tibetan tribes in Amdo when the northwest was under the warlord Ma Bufang’s control during the early decades of the 20th century. In the past, historical or literary discourses that dealt with this region and this period tended to focus on the Hui Muslim and the Han population, pushing the Tibetans out to the margin. With this novel, the author reclaims her people’s history by placing the Tibetans at the center of this turbulent era to examine the Tibetan national character as well as issues such as education and modernity and their effect on cultural traditions. Another novel, Yueliang yingdi (The Moon Camp), describes life in a small Tibetan town, highlighting the romantic relationships of several residents. Like Taiyang buluo, Metso sets the story in the 20th century when the outside world began to crack open the isolated Tibetan society. History, however, is always kept in the background in Metso’s romantic novels. Nevertheless, through the stories of love and desire, Metso unravels the tragic history of the Tibetan nation, as she has done in Taiyang buluo and Yueliang yingdi.
Metso’s short stories and novellas, on the other hand, feature contemporary middle-class Tibetan women. Into these love stories she injects a dose of religiosity, turning them into quests for the meaning of life. Borrowing from the Buddhist concept of reincarnation, Metso creates characters that live in multiple manifestations, each adding a layer to the existence of another and further complicating their psychological depth. The author’s dexterous play of different voices against one another departs from the realist mode adopted in her novels and gives the stories, such as “Shexiang” (Muskiness) and “Chujia ren” (Those Who Have Taken the Buddhist Vow), a measure of experimentalism.