By Luciana Leitão
I Love my Mum is the controversial novella by the equally controversial Chinese author Chen Xiwo. It is a story about murder and incest, but, more than that, it is a metaphore for a political constrained reality and ill society. It was and is banned in Mainland China, but it tells a story one needs to know.
Chen Xiwo is one of the most polemic authors in Mainland China, as his topics are very controversial — he writes about sex, approaching issues such as homosexuality, incest and sadomasochistic practices. And he never compromises, not even with the censors. In fact, because of that, for almost 20 years his books were not published in Mainland China.
I Love my Mum is probably his most famous work, using incest to portray a dysfunctional society. For that reason, it was banned in China and still is. When it was published in 2007, I loved My Mum caused an international uproar, as the author had sued the Chinese customers for confiscating his novel in Chinese. Yet, since then, he has become widely acclaimed in Mainland China, teaching in the university and winning national awards. And, has he told mART, in an interview, he can’t imagine living anywhere else, as it is in his homeland that he finds inspiration to write.
The book starts with the murder of the mother of a young disabled man and a crime squad detective who has to investigate the murder. The detective, who also is a shady character used to the darkest side of life, is confused by the main suspect, who is apparently physically unable to commit such a crime. The English version is very clear, the writing is quite fluid and dynamic, leaving the reader anxious to see what’s next on the other page.
The pages turn and you still seem to not fully comprehend the meaning of I Love My Mum, the strangeness of the relationship between the victim and the murder suspect. But it is more than that: it seems hard to understand the strangeness of a rotten society, as the one described by the author. And that is probably what caught the eyes of the censors. Either way, I Love my Mum is worth the read.