Giving history a bright future

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Author Ma Boyong. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Common approach

In a historical novel, reality and fiction coexist. In Ma's book, he makes sure that historical facts are kept intact, but Ma does "fabricate other matters, such as the creation of fictional characters in the novel".

As well as the fictional ensemble, he also elevates patriotic official Yu Qian to one of the main characters of his tale. Yu would later play an important role in leading the defense of the Ming capital, Beijing, from attacks by the Oirat Mongols.

"We all know that Yu is a national hero, but his early experience is rarely mentioned in historical documents," says Ma.

"So I tried to imagine Yu's earlier experiences in life that would help shape his future destiny."

Ma is skillful in writing historical fiction. He has published many popular books, some of which have been translated into Japanese, Thai and Korean.

Ma has earned the nickname "Prince" among his enthusiastic followers, yet his sense of commonalty is reflected in his works.

He says that, although historical novels depict the past, they can still be relevant to modern life.

"In ancient China, for example, people paid a great deal of attention to social hierarchy, and often ignored people from the lower classes," says Ma.

"But in modern times we stress people's equality, so we can view history from the angle of each person's value.

"In present society, we are all members of the general public, so when we see the struggles of the ordinary people in ancient history, we often develop an emotional connection with them, and would like to learn their stories."

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