Wong Kar Wai on Literature

I am reading “Wong Kar Wai Interviews” edited by Silver Wai Ming Lee and Micky Lee.

There is this interview by Lin Yao-teh. First published in United Literature no 120 of Taiwan in 1994.

There is this fascinating discussion on literature.

I found it worth writing down because I am interested in knowing what influences Wong Kar Wai and, as I love reading.

The following books and authors influenced him…

Albert Camus.  According to him Camus’ ‘The Stranger” resonates with him immensely. In fact in real life he feels like living through many scenes in the book (I have not read Camus).

Honore de Balzac influenced him a lot (I have not read anything by him).

His favorite America Novelist John Steinbeck and Ernest Hemingway (I have not read either Steinbeck or Hemingway. I have not read Hemingway!!! It’s shameful).

His favorite Japanese writer is Yasunari Kawabata. Especially “Snow Country” and “The House of Sleeping Beauties”(I want to read Kawabata).

He is a big fan of Osamu Dazai and Riichi Yokomitsu (I have not read them too).

Kawabata, Dazai and Yokomitsu from Japan.

And Marquez from South America.

But it was another South American author… who influenced Wong Kar Wai in a very profound way… especially in his film-making style (His narrative divided into a series of fragments and shunned chronology).

Manuel Puig.

Two books…  “Kiss of the Spider woman” and “Heartbreak Tango”

I read somewhere that WKW has taken elements from Puig’s book in “Happy Together”.

(Well, I have not read him too)

Among Chinese writers, his favorites are, Lu Xun, Zhou Zuoren and especially Mu Shiying. He wants to adapt Mu Shiying’s novel.

And Wuxia novelist, Louis Cha and Gu Long.

(I have not even heard these names)

And we all know that initial story idea and some dialogues in “In the Mood for Love” came from Liu Yichang’s novels “Intersection” and “ The Alcoholic”.

So, Wong Kar Wai is a voracious reader of world literature.

And now I feel like a complete illiterate.

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