2020 Nanjing Virtual Literary Residency: Open Call

This program was established to improve the creative capacity and multicultural understanding of talented writers from world cities with strong literary traditions, particularly Creative Cities of Literature. Each year, six to eight authors from participating cities will be selected for a one-month residency program in Nanjing. Activities will be organized during the program to help writers learn about different aspects of local culture, better understand local literature, and gain creative inspiration from these new experiences. During the Virtual residency program, writers will engage in writing literary creations based on their online experiences in Nanjing. 

Nanjing International writers’ residency program was officially launched in April 2019, hosting writers from the United Kingdom, France, Spain and Ireland. With the ongoing global impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, Nanjing Literature Centre has decided to turn it into a Virtual residency. Priority is given to the health and safety of all participants during this trying time. This online program is believed to offer participating writers opportunities for cross-culture literature discussion, virtual experiences of visits to Nanjing, and meetings with their counterparts in China.

Six candidates will be selected from the applicants as the 2020 Nanjing Virtual Residency writers. The final list will be announced prior to Friday 25 September. A minimum allowance of 500USD will be transfered to the selected writers.

2020 Program

Who Can Apply

Foreign writers/translators

Residency City

Nanjing (Province of Jiangsu, China)

Duration of Residency 

October 20, 2020 – December 20, 2020.

Documents Required

- A CV to cover the applicant's personal information, education, employer, literary works published, literary awards and China (or Nanjing) visits experiences if applicable;
- A cover letter on motivation to apply and interests about Nanjing/ China;
- A sample extract of published works: extract from a published text (in Chinese or in English) or sample of a translated text (English to Chinese or Chinese to English).

Criteria of Selection

- Interest for the city culture of Nanjing and willingness to engage in the local cultural circle;

- A recommendation letter from a literary institution/association based in the applicant's residence -country;

- At least three years of professional writing; 

- at least one published literary work or equivalent piece of work;

- Sufficient capability in communication in oral and/or written English language.

Terms of the Residency

What to do with a virtual residency

The organizers will hold special events to help visiting writers learn about different aspects of local culture and better understand Chinese literature; A tailored residency program is to be prepared for each writer. During the residency, all participating writers will make his own choices of attending online discussions, literature salons, specialists meetings, and/or virtual visits to Nanjing’s iconic attractions. They will visit Nanjing and immerse themselves into this city online. Guest writers will have a chance to appreciate Nanjing’s unique urban characteristics, including local people’s cultural lives and the charm of Nanjing’s literature. Detailed information is listed below:

1. Exploring Libraries

Duration: 15-30 minutes

Option1: Nanjing Library

Nanjing Library is the third largest library in China and the fourth largest in Asia. It covers an area of 80000 square metres with a collection over 10 million books. Historical documents are the most prominent feature of this library, among which 700,000 historical documents out of its collection of 1.6 million are left from the Republic of China era; while 140,000 are accredited as the best edition, and 524 inscribed into China’s List of Ancient Documents. Nanjing library has the first-class historical document restoration technology. A simple look at those antique pieces offers a wonderful experience of travelling back in time. 

Option2: Jinling Library

Jinling Library makes a city library for Nanjing. Apart from its rich collections, the Jinling Library is best known for its development of creative culture products; it is the place where unique design encounters literature. The library develops its cultural creativity industry with elements from classical opera; It has built an ‘opera’ library within a library. Here, you will perceive the charm of Nanjing’s cultural heritage.

2. Saunter in a Unique Bookstore

The world of literature is a strange land, yet a homeland. Literature and reading have immersed in citizens’ lives; they have created a unique cultural vibe and charm for this city. Nanjing currently has around 400 bookstores, and many of them are very popular on social media; some of these bookstores are called ‘the most beautiful’ bookstore. Every bookstore is unique, and there is definitely one which makes you find hard to turn away from. 

Duration: 15-30 minute

Option1: Librarie Avant-Guard

Librarie Avant-Guard has been hailed by CNN as ‘the most beautiful bookstore in China. The bookstore has also been rated as ‘the top 10 most beautiful bookstore in the world’ by BBC, ‘The Guardian’, ‘National Geographic’ and ‘Der Spiegel’. The bookstore is also ‘the second library’ for university students in Nanjing. ‘An outsider on this land’ is the motto for this bookstore. Elements from academic research, cultural salon, coffee, art gallery, film, music, creativity, life, fashion meet each other at the same space. Open a book here, enjoy the reading time.

Option 2: Dazhong Bookstore (Xinjiekou store)

Dazhong Bookstore, literally a general public mall for books, is an urban bookstore that adapts the commercial form of cultural department stores. The bookstore is popular among all age groups due to its down-to-earth characteristic. Staircases here are made of books to demonstrate the idea of ‘Books are steps toward human progress.’ It has well-proportioned space with romantic features from fairy tales; the scents from the past are flowing within the bookstore.

Option 3: Wanxiang bookstore

Wanxiang bookstore located in a narrow alley with lush trees; this is a delicate bookstore with a sentimental appeal where you can cut off from the hustle and bustle of modern cities. The bookstore has been granted the title of ‘readers’ favourite bookstore’. It locates right next to Nanjing University, and there are many students in this bookstore; as a result, the bookstore is also known as ‘Nanjing University’s library’.

Option 4: Phoenix cloud (24-hour bookstore)

Phoenix cloud 24-hour bookstore has been designed as ‘Nanjing City’s Literature Parlor’. It means a harbour with 24-hour lamp for bibliophiles living in or traveling to Nanjing. There is always a lamp of literature for any-time arrival at Nanjing. Apart from its reading space for book lovers, the bookstore has launched a handicraft art brand with oriental aesthetics – phoenix cloud handicraft. The brand brings new possibilities to the bookstore and the readers. The bookstore has delicate interior design and comfortable lighting; all these details demonstrate this bookstore’s creativity and its caring to the readers. With its reading elegant and comfortable space, visitors feel peace in this place.

Option 5: Singularity Bookstore

Singularity Bookstore marks a physical illustration of the simple rule of ‘less is more’. The bookstore is featured by its space design that makes visitors want to read books; it also help encourage creativity, even when visitors drop in with exhausted bodies. The bookstore caters to young people’s aesthetic taste and their views of life and consumption. During your trip to Nanjing, it is a must place to go.  

Option 6: Youth Bookstore

Youth Bookstore is open inside Nanjing’s ancient city wall. Ancient heritage gives a great contrast to passionate youth, and it is the most prominent feature of this bookstore. In a sunny early afternoon, walking into ancient rampart, walking into youth bookstore, life cannot be better.  

3. Reading Series

Nanjing Literature Center has co-sponsored a series of reading events in 2020, attempting to bring literature and masterpieces to different age groups in Nanjing. Events themes cover pandemic challenges, child development, Chinese traditional festivals, and classics sharing. Duration: 60 minutes

Event 1: 5-minute Reading Classics

It is held on April 23rd to mark the first 'World Reading Day' after Nanjing's designation as a UNESCO Creative City of Literature. This initiative has witnessed participation by well-known writers from eight countries, who chose to read out lines and paragraphs from their own works or from favored writers. Their sharing videos, some even taken in lockdown, helped deliver literary strength to the readers then still suffering from the severe uncertainty of the pandemic. Nanjing Literature Centre have those videos translated into Chinese, produce a new video clip and have it broadcast to the larger audience across China.

Event 2: Featured Literature Event

The April reading of the Read on the Lake Series was staged in the Yingzhou Study Room, a reading space on Xuanwu Lake. The event exhibited letters, diaries and stories from medical workers who volunteered to support Wuhan during the outbreak of COVID-19. During the event, some pandemic-related letters and stories were shared.

The solidarity posters from UNESCO Cities of Literature for Wuhan wee exhibited during the Jiangsu Book Fair in July. Warm pictures and words from 21 cities of literature are reopen to the book fair attendants. During the outbreak of COVID-19 in February, those posters have reached people in Wuhan with strength. With the exhibition, warmth and solidarity from cities of literature to the Wuhan City of Design are delivered to the general readers.

Event 3: Children's themed reading

Read on the Lake series serves young readers with a featured reading on the Children's Day of 1 June We. Children literature writers, primary school students and their teachers were invited to the event venue on the Xuanwu Lake. Apart from reading and sharing, they had a discussion on the topics of 'How to let children enjoy reading' and 'what is the charm of children literature like'.

Event 4: Reading of Traditional Chinese Festivals

Dragon Boat Festival falls on 25 July. The festival has been inscribed into the intangible cultural heritage list; it is also known as the Poets' Festival. Therefore, it was the right time to appreciate some Chinese poetries. During the event, there were ballad concert and recitation performance from little poetry fans. Audiences were able to participate in traditional games of Dragon Boat Festival such as Touhu.

Event 5: Sharing of Classics

Classics are the witness of history and culture. In modern days, ancient classics seem to detach from our daily lives. However, as a component of Nanjing’s and the world’s historical-cultural heritage, they deserve preservation and respect. As a theme reading of ‘Read on the Lake’ series , ‘Nanjing City of Literature Classics Series’ was held on in a classical boat on the Xuanwu Lake on 28 July. Historians, researchers, poets and writers gathered to share their views on reading classics. The sharing was joined by over 100,000 readers online. 

The monthly readings in plan are waiting for residency writers...

4. Writers/Poets Face-to-face

Resident writers will have a face-to-face discussion with Nanjing’s local writers. They will discuss literature and have a deep conversation on topics of interest.

Duration: 15-30 minutes

Option 1: Ye Zhaoyan

Novelist and author of “Ominous Flowers”, “The Shadow of Flowers”, “Candlelight Ball”, “Love in 1937”, “Nanjingers” and “Nanjing: the Biography”.

Option 2: Bi Feiyu

Novelist and author of  “The Moon Opera”, “Massage”, “Three Sisters” , “The Plains”.

Option 3: Xue Bing

Writer and author of novels “A Disaster for Beauties” “Love Story”; essay collections “The City of Six Dynasties is My Home”, “The Memorial Archway of Jiangnan” and “The Daughter of Nanjing”.

Option 4: Yu Bang

Poet and novelist, author of “Goodbye, Beetle”, “Identity Card”, and poetry collection “The War Within”.

Option 5: Hu Xian

Poet and author of poetry collections “Rain Shower”, “Hourglass” and “The Empty Staircase”; essay collections “Vegetables” and “The Man Shall Never Return Home”. 

Option 6: He Tongbin

Literary Critic and author of “History is a Catastrophe of Spirits”, “Reconstruct Youth” and “The Lingering Night Watch”. 

Option 7: Pang Yu

Young writer and author of “Boxing with One Arm” and “Our galloping Sadness”.

Option 8: Shuashua

Young writer of children’s literature, and author of “The Train to Happiness” and “Girls with no Growing Pains”.

5. Wandering in the City of Museums

Nanjing has 58 registered museums. These museums kept the treasure and past glory of an ancient capital city. A walk into these museums will trace this beautiful city with its past.

Duration: 15-30 mins

Option 1: Oriental Metropolitan Museum

The Oriental Metropolitan Museum holds China’s most comprehensive thematic exhibition on the period of Six Dynasties (222-589), displaying relics and introducing the culture and history of Six Dynasties. The museum complex was designed by world renowned Pei Architects, using Pei’s techniques and theories such as Pei construction modulus, Pei’s geometry, Pei’s light and shadow theory. The exhibition is to manifest the beauty of Nanjing as an oriental metropolis. The exhibits include stone carvings, paintings, calligraphy works, building blocks, epitaphs, celadon wares, etc. Display of the exhibits gives an artistic feeling of the combination of art and history. 

Option 2: Jiangning Imperial Silk Manufacturing Museum

Building style of the Jiangning Imperial Silk Manufacturing Museum is rooted in China’s landscape painting tradition, a classic piece of the combination of modern architecture and traditional landscape garden. Permanent exhibitions include Silk Manufacturing, Imperial Silk Clothing, Red Dream Mansion, Chinese Style Cheongsam, etc. Other facilities of the museum include a red-dream-mansion-themed theatre, a fashion press release center, an opera stage, a bookstore, a library, etc. This is a state of the art museum showcasing Silk Manufacturing, Imperial Silk Techniques and the culture of Red Dream Chamber.

Option 3: Imperial Examination Museum of China

Imperial Examination Museum of China is a museum showcasing China’s imperial examination system. It tells us why Nanjing was a cultural capital and education center of China. The museum has three levels underground and boasts itself as the only underground museum in China.

6. Historical Cultural Walk Tours

Duration: 15-30 mins

Option 1: Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum

Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum is the burial place for Hongwu Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang and his queen. It is named "Xiaoling", which literally means filial piety, since the ethic of  filial piety was given great importance in Ming dynasty’s governing. Covering an area of more than 1.7 million square meters, it is one of the largest emperor’s mausoleums in China, and an excellent example of the combination of Chinese traditional architectural art and natural aesthetics. It represents the highest achievement of architecture and stone carving art in the early Ming Dynasty. It was enlisted as an UNESCO world cultural heritage site.

Option 2: Ming Dynasty City Wall

The Nanjing Ming Dynasty City Wall is 35.3 kilometers long, within which a total of 25.1 kilometers remains intact. It is the largest, longest and best preserved ancient city wall in the world. It has witnessed the history of the rise and fall of Nanjing, and its existence is the most vivid description of "stone city", a nick name of Nanjing. The study rooms, museums, and even coffee houses within the city walls will take you between old times and today.

Option 3: Nanjing University

Nanjing University is a century-old school with a long history and outstanding reputation. Since its establishment at the beginning of the last century, Nanjing University has been one of the most active Chinese universities in international exchanges and cooperation. It has established close cooperative relations with many first-class universities and high-level scientific research institutions in the world. Among them, the Nanjing University-Hopkins University Sino-American Culture Research Center, which was founded in the 1980s, has been successfully running for more than 30 years and has wide-reaching influence at home and abroad.

Option 4: Confucius Temple Qinhuai Scenic Belt

The Qinhuai Scenic Belt of Confucius Temple is centered on the ancient buildings of Confucius Temple, ten miles of Qinhuai River is the axis, and the Ming City Wall is the link. Confucius Temple is China’s first national high school. The world's largest ancient city wall, the three are intertwined to form a large number of scenic spots, forming a unique cultural scenic spot with Nanjing characteristics. With the connotation of Confucianism, imperial examination culture, and folk culture, it integrates natural scenery, landscape gardens, temples and schools, street dwellings, local people, gourmet shopping, science education, and festival culture. It is not only a place where Nanjing’s history and culture gather. It is also the largest traditional ancient street market in China.

Option 5: Nanjing Porcelain Tower

Nanjing Porcelain was built by Yongle Emperor Zhu Di to commemorate Hongwu Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang and his Queen Ma. The construction was extremely sophisticated, and it was built in full accordance with the standards of an imperial palace. It was the highest temple at its time. The porcelain tower was 78.2 meters high. The whole body was made of glazed glass. It has left a mark in the history of world architecture.

7. Dialogue with Nanjingers

We will invite resident writers to engage in dialogues with Nanjingers. The representative Nanjingers will be selected from the volunteer team for Nanjing Literature Center, including Nanjing citizens, students, literature lovers, professors, journalists, etc. It means flexible discussions and exchanges of ideas to develop further understanding over residents in Nanjing, the newly designated city of literature.

Duration: 15-30 mins

Option 1: Citizen volunteers

Option 2: Student volunteers

Option 3: Literature lovers

Option 4: Scholars, professors

Option 5: Journalists

How to make a residency plan

Resident writers may choose 4-5 items of interest from the above experience programs. Nanjing Literature Center will develop advance communication with the selected writers to make sure of the smooth progress of the project. Tailored programs and events participation will be finalised upon mutual consultation. And resident writers are encouraged to leave their creative writings published in Nanjing.


17 September 2020

Please send your application to wangtaotao@njliterature.org via email;

with CC to yuan.lilas@qq.com and ray.bai@njliterature.org