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In this essay, Yan Lianke reflects on a phenomenon that he calls national amnesia, in which a people (and Yan Lianke focuses here on China) are encouraged to forget issues relating to earlier crises or social traumas, such as China's Great Famine in the late 1950s or the June Fourth Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989. Yan Lianke emphasizes the degree to which the state encourages this condition of national amnesia, while the nation's intellectuals are often complicit in tacitly supporting this outcome. He then underscores the role that literature can play in helping to bring attention to earlier crises and traumas that have become the object of this process of national amnesia.

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