China′s Avant-Garde Fiction

An Anthology

China′s Avant-Garde Fiction

Book Pages: 296 Illustrations: Published: March 1998

Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Criticism

Filled with mirages, hallucinations, myths, mental puzzles, and the fantastic, the contemporary experimental fiction of the Chinese avant-garde represents a genre of storytelling unlike any other. Whether engaging the worn spectacle of history, expressing seemingly unmotivated violence, or reinventing outlandish Tibetan myths, these stories are defined by their devotion to theatrics and their willful apathy toward everything held sacred by the generation that witnessed the Cultural Revolution.
Jing Wang has selected provocative examples of this new school of writing, which gained prominence in the late 1980s. Contradicting many long-cherished beliefs about Chinese writers—including the alleged tradition of writing as a political act against authoritarianism—these stories make a dramatic break from conventions of modern Chinese literature by demonstrating an irreverence toward history and culture and by celebrating the artificiality of storytelling. Enriched by the work of a distinguished group of translators, this collection presents an aesthetic experience that may have outraged many revolutionary-minded readers in China, but one that also occupies an important place in the canon of Chinese literature. China’s Avant-Garde Fiction brings together a group of exceptional writers (including Raise the Red Lantern author Su Tong) to the attention of an English-speaking audience.
This book will be enjoyed by those interested in Chinese literature, culture, and society—particularly readers of contemporary fiction.

. Bei Cun, Can Xue, Gei Fei, Ma Yuan, Su Tong, Sun Ganlu, Yu Hua

Translators. Eva Shan Chou, Michael S. Duke, Howard Goldblatt, Ronald R. Janssen, Andrew F. Jones, Denis C. Mair, Victor H. Mair, Caroline Mason, Beatrice Spade, Kristina M. Torgeson, Jian Zhang, Zhu Hong


China’s Avant-Garde Fiction deals with the 1987 emergence of the Avant-Garde School of fiction writing. The short fiction pieces here pay tribute to mad homicidal instincts, irrational impulses, taboo thought and words, writing outside of a political context (or debunking the political status quo). . . . Jing Wang’s China’s Avant-Garde Fiction offers a variety of thought-provoking . . . writings by many of China’s best-known modernist writers.” — , Pacific Reader

“Filled with images, hallucinations, myths, mental puzzles, and the fantastic, the contemporary experimental fiction of the Chinese avant-garde represents a genre unlike any other. Jing Wang has collected fourteen examples of this new school of writing that gained prominence in the late 1980s. Contributors include Ge Fei, Yu Hua, Su Tong, Can Xue, Bei Cun, Sun Ganlu, and Ma Yuan. Enriched by the work of a dozen distinguished translators, the stories present an aesthetic experience that may have outraged many revolutionary-minded readers in China, but one that also serves as a dramatic manifesto of the making of a postrevolutionary literary sensibility obsessed with form and the pleasure of storytelling.” — , Translation Review

“The book contains 14 expertly translated stories by seven contemporary Chinese writers. . . . In her eloquent, . . . stimulating, and thought-provoking . . . introductory essay Jing Wang provides the historical and ideological framework for interpreting the stories in terms of their ‘antihumanist’ stance. . . . [T]his is a most valuable and useful volume, to be recommended to anyone interested in Chinese literature and cultural critique. Used on its own or as a companion volume to Jing Wang’s recent, much acclaimed monograph High Culture Fever, it will make excellent course material for Chinese as well as comparative literature studies.” — , The China Quarterly

“The translations are of high quality. . . . This literature is an essential and startling moment in modern Chinese literary history, or indeed modern Chinese history; and this anthology would make an excellent textbook.” — Jingyuan Zhang , Journal of Asian and African Studies

“This well-translated anthology . . . should interest professors and graduate students of contemporary Chinese literature.” — Philip F. Williams , Choice

“This collection is bound to create an impact on the direction of research in Chinese literary studies. And Jing’s perceptive discussion of this school’s artistic and historical relevances is likely to become standard reference for future explorations of recent literary developments in China.” — Sung-sheng Yvonne Chang, University of Texas at Austin


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Jing Wang is Associate Professor of Asian and African Languages and Literature at Duke University. She is the author of The Story of Stone, also published by Duke University Press, and of High Culture Fever: Politics, Aesthetics, and Ideology in Deng’s China.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments vii

Introduction / Jing Wang 1

Remembering Mr. Wu You / Ge Fei, transl. by Howard Goldblatt 15

Green Yellow / Ge Fei, transl. by Eva Shan Chou 23

Whistling / Ge Fei, transl. by Victor H. Mair 43

The Noon of Howling Wind / Yu Hua, transl. by Denis C. Mair 69

1968 / Yu Hua, transl. by Andrew F. Jones 74

This Story Is For Willow / Yu Hua, transl. by Denis C. Mair 114

Flying Over Maple Village / Su Tong, transl. by Michael S. Duke 147

The Birth of the Water God / Su Tong, transl. by Beatrice Spade 160

The Brothers Shu / Su Tong, transl. by Howard Goldblatt 173

The Hut on the Mountain / Can Xue, transl. by Ronald R. Janssen and Jian Zhang 212

The Big Drugstore / Bei Cun, transl. by Caroline Mason 217

I Am a Young Drunkard / Sun Ganlu, transl. by Kristina M. Torgeson 235

More Ways Than One to Make a Kite / Ma Yuan, transl. by Zhu Hong 246

A Wandering Spirit / Ma Yuan, transl. by Caroline Mason 264

Acknowledgment of Copyrights 284

Contributors 286

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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2116-3 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2100-2
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