Taiwan writer Liu Yong is no stranger to many readers on the Chinese mainland.
Ever since his first book By the Light of Fireflies (Yingchuang Xiaoyu) was introduced to the Chinese mainland in 1993, Liu, now 55, has enjoyed increasing popularity, especially among younger readers.
Acclaimed as one of the nation's most prolific and popular writers, he has published over 60 books, with over 3 million copies sold in the past decade.
Most of his books are collections of essays filled with uplifting tales about ordinary people, which help others open their hearts and give them the courage to pursue their dreams.
In 1999, seven of his books were on the top 10 bestseller lists on the Chinese mainland. He has also enjoyed great popularity in Taiwan, with many of his books topping bestseller lists there over the past 17 years.
Liu owes much of his success to his unusual life experiences, and his childhood in particular, he said.
Born in Taipei in 1949, Liu lost his father at the age of 9 and the family's home was destroyed in a fire when he was 13. But these hardships didn't dent his hopes to succeed in life.
After graduating from the Art Department of Taiwan Normal University, he began to work as a journalist at a Taipei television station in 1973.
A year later, he published his first book By the Light of Fireflies, which became a bestseller in Taiwan.
But Liu did not indulge himself in the sudden fame. In 1979, he went to the United States to further his studies in art education and start his new career.
In addition to devoting himself to painting, Liu continued his writing in the following years.
Some critics argued that Liu's style of writing is like his way of painting -- simple but subtle, although his paintings have not brought him the acclaim he enjoys as a writer. He has generally maintained the same style during his 30-year writing career.
As a father of a son and a daughter, Liu has also focused some of his works on the issue of family education.
Three of his books, Surpassing Yourself (Chaoyue Ziji), Creating Yourself (Chuangzao Ziji), and Trusting Yourself (Kending Ziji), published over 10 years ago, are written in the form of letters to his son and convey his great expectations for the child.
After living in the United States for a long time, he has gained a better understanding of the great differences in family education between the East and the West.
His latest work You Make It Happen (Kao Ziji Qu Chenggong), published by Changjiang Arts Publishing House in October, 2003, is a book for his daughter who is now studying at a high school in the United States.
The book contains many instructions on how a girl might discover and cherish the goodness in life, as well as exhortations on independence and self-reliance.
As Liu writes in the preface, the book conveys his new ideas about family education. "At first sight, it is about traditional education, but actually it is about how to let children grow up freely," Liu explained.
Many Chinese parents have played a strong role in deciding the paths their children's lives will take.
"The best education is to give full play to a child's ability and talent," Liu writes.
"Each generation has their own shared experiences. When the generation gap is unavoidable, mutual understanding and respect should be pursued." If they are just doing something harmless but merely unconventional, parents should show understanding and let them be, Liu added. As a famed writer and art educator, Liu has been invited to deliver hundreds of speeches in colleges, universities and schools throughout the country over the past few years.
As well, he has also made frequent trips to the poverty-stricken areas in the western part of China and donated money to improve conditions of local schools.
In the past five years, he has donated funds to 26 primary schools and helped more than 200 children who were deprived of the opportunity to go to school.
(China Daily April 27, 2004)