lunch with the first lady from Finland

Jenni Haukio, the wife of the Finnish president Sauli Vainamo Niinisto, is a poet. She has just the right qualities to be the first lady: poised, beautiful and intelligent. And I am very impressed how down-to-earth she is.

Today I was invited to have a small lunch with her at Capital Ma, together with Xichuang, a well-known Chinese poet and Barbara Demick, LA Times’ China correspondent and author of Nothing to Envy.

She had done her homework: she read my bio, obviously, and even some of the reviews of my memoir. She asked intelligent questions regarding what’s life like for a Chinese writer and poet; Chinese literary scene and publishing industries in China. She talked about the situations in Finland. Soon the atmosphere warmed up and we were joking and laughing away. She said she always feels comfortable with other writers no matter which country they are from as she can always find connections with them.

Well, literature is a world language. I very much enjoyed the occasion. Such exchanges always enrich our lives. After the long lunch, I was presented a heavy book of Kalevala, the epic poems from Finland. Something unusual to read.

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