Feature: Finding the faith fearing no distance in Norman Bethune's life

Source: Xinhua| 2018-11-04 11:59:43|Editor: Yang Yi
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OTTAWA, Nov. 3 (Xinhua) -- "The spirit represented by Norman Bethune never dies. It inspires generations of people including in our time to think more about life," said Yan Li, a Chinese-Canadian writer.

Yan's book "Faith Fears No Distance", published by Shanghai Literature and Art Publishing House on Oct. 27, unveiled part of the buried history of Dr. Norman Bethune and his medical team, who went to China in 1938 to help the Chinese people to fight against the Japanese invasion troops during World War II.

In the book, Yan revives the past life in China of Bethune, a Canadian physician and a friend of the Chinese people, through her interviews with Bill Cesil-Smith, a Canadian citizen.

She tries to go deep into the emotional world of the noted communist as an ordinary person and what led him to be a hero.

The book consists of two parts. The first part "The Last Love Letter from Norman Bethune" focuses on the search for the only photo of Bethune together with the late Chinese leader Mao Zedong, which was donated to China in 2015, and the story behind it.

The second part "Green Mountains Everywhere" is dedicated to the 80th anniversary of the Norman Bethune medical team going to China.

The book vividly portrays Bethune's spirit of internationalism and humanitarianism, with such details as how he spoke and behaved, as well as the devoted service by his medical team in wartime to help the Chinese people.

Besides anecdotes, Yan's compelling detective-story approach helps bring readers deep into the inner world of Bethune, displaying a charming character with a complexity of human nature.

In much of her writing, "Bethune appears as an icon to guide and support the heroine to survive the difficulties in a new immigrant's life during wartime," Yan said. "The power from him is significantly strong."

Yan said she felt happy that her research and writing ended up with fruitful results. Among her efforts was the search for and convincing study of the original document of Bethune's will, which put an end to a decades-long controversy among almost all Canadian scholars on Bethune studies.

Since coming from Beijing in 1987 with an MA in journalism from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Yan has lived in Canada for 31 years, and she has since 1997 taught at Renison University College, University of Waterloo.

The part-time writer has published more than a dozen books in English or Chinese, some of them award winning works in Canada and China.

Yan became the Canadian chief of the Confucius Institute in Waterloo in 2007 and has since worked hard to promote cultural and literature exchanges between Canada and China.

Yan said she plans, in the spring of 2019, to organize a Canadian team of Bethune study scholars to tour places in China where Bethune worked, to mark the 80th anniversary of his death in China.