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Wang Anyi
Chinese writer

Wang Anyi

Wang Anyi
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro Chinese writer
Is Writer Essayist Screenwriter
From China
Field Film, TV, Stage & Radio Literature
Gender female
Birth 6 March 1954, Nanjing, Jiangsu, People's Republic of China
Age 68 years
Star sign Pisces
Mother: Ru Zhijuan
The details (from wikipedia)


Wang Anyi (born 6 March 1954) is a Chinese writer. The daughter of renowned writer Ru Zhijuan, Wang is considered a leading figure in contemporary Chinese literature. She has been vice-chair of China Writers Association since 2006, and professor in Chinese Literature at Fudan University since 2004.

Wang's stories are frequently set in her hometown Shanghai, and David Der-wei Wang has called her the "new successor to the Shanghai School". Wang also regularly writes about the countryside in Anhui, where she was "sent down" during the Cultural Revolution.

Early life

The second of three children of playwright Wang Xiaoping (王啸平) and story writer Ru Zhijuan (茹志鹃), Wang Anyi was born in Nanjing in 1954, but moved to Shanghai at age 1 with her parents. Wang was raised in a well-protected family off wealthy Huaihai Road and developed a habit of reading herself to sleep at a young age. She has an elder Wang Annuo (王安诺) and a younger brother Wang Anwei (王安桅).


In 1969, after graduating from middle school, Wang was "sent down" to the countryside of Wuhe County, Anhui—then an impoverished province plagued by famine. The rustication experience traumatized her. In the late 1980s, Wang said: "When I left, I left with the feelings of escaping from hell."

During the lonely years in the countryside, "reading books and writing in my diary became even more precious to me". Wang had hoped to enter a university as a Worker-Peasant-Soldier student but without a recommendation her dream was not realized. However, as she could play the accordion, in 1972 she found a position in the Xuzhou Song and Dance Cultural Troupe to play the cello. During her spare time she continued to write, and began to publish short stories in 1976. She was permitted to return to Shanghai in 1978 and worked as an editor of the literature magazine Childhood (儿童时代).

In 1980 Wang became a professional writer, and that year received training from the China Writers Association at the Lu Xun Literary Institute. Her earlier works focused on individual experiences rather than the collective, politics-oriented literature advocated by the state. In 1982 and 1983, her short story "The Destination" and novella Lapse of Time won national awards. In Lapse of Time, Wang shifted from emotional intensity in her previous work to the mundane day-to-day lives. But it was a 1983 trip to Iowa City, Iowa, United States for the International Writing Program, with her mother Ru Zhijuan, that redefined her career. There she met writer Chen Yingzhen, a social activist and Chinese nationalist from Taiwan, whose humanistic worldview and encouragement strongly influenced her. This experience "led to the profound discovery that she was indeed Chinese and to the decision to 'write on China' when she returned". In her first major work after the trip, the award-winning novella Baotown (1985), Wang focused on the culture of rural China, drawing from her own experience. The benevolent child protagonist is contrasted with selfish, prejudicial, cruel and close-minded adult villagers, and Ying Hong remarked that Wang used "words that carry not the least hint of subjectivity she casually tosses forth a whole string of 'slices of life'."

Since Baotown, Wang began exploring social taboo subjects. Her three novellas on forbidden carnal love, namely Love on a Barren Mountain (1986), Love in a Small Town (1986), and Brocade Valley (1987), provoked much controversy despite virtually no depictions of sex. Her 1989 novella Brothers made forays into the fragile same-sex, non-sexual female bond. However, in a 1988 interview Wang stated her "purpose and theme" have been consistently about man and love.

Wang's most famous novel, The Song of Everlasting Sorrow, traces the life story of a young Shanghainese girl from the 1940s all the way till her death after the Cultural Revolution. Although the book was published in 1995, it is already considered by many as a modern classic. Wang is often compared with another female writer from Shanghai, Eileen Chang, as both of their stories are often set in Shanghai, and give vivid and detailed descriptions of the city itself.

A novella and six of her stories have been translated and collected in an anthology, Lapse of Time. In his preface to that collection, Jeffrey Kinkley notes that Wang is a realist whose stories "are about everyday urban life" and that the author "does not stint in describing the brutalising density, the rude jostling, the interminable and often futile waiting in line that accompany life in the Chinese big city".

Wang has tried other forms of writing. In 1996 Wang co-wrote the period film Temptress Moon with director Chen Kaige and Shu Kei. In 2007, she translated Elizabeth Swados' My Depression: A Picture Book from English.

Wang has been a professor in Fudan University since 2000s.

Personal life

Wang's husband is Li Zhang. They have no children.

Works translated to English

Year Chinese title Translated English title Translator(s)
1979 雨,沙沙沙 "And the Rain Patters On" Michael Day
1980 小院琐记 "Life in a Small Courtyard" Hu Zhihui
1981 墙基 "The Base of the Wall" Daniel Bryant
朋友 "Friends" Nancy Lee
本次列车终点 "The Destination" Yu Fanqin
1982 流逝 Lapse of Time Howard Goldblatt
舞台小世界 "The Stage, a Miniature World" Song Shouquan
1984 人人之间 "Between Themselves" Gladys Yang
话说老秉 "Speaking of Old Bing" Chad Phelan
1985 我为什么写作 "Why I Write" Michael Berry
小鲍庄 Baotown Martha Avery
老康回来 "Lao Kang Came Back" Jeanne Tai
"Lao Kang Is Back" Denis C. Mair
阿跷传略 "The Story of Ah Qiao" Yawtsong Lee
1986 阿芳的灯 "Ah Fang's Light"
鸠雀一战 "The Nest Fight"
"Birds Fighting for a Nest" Nigel Bedford
名旦之口 "The Mouth of the Famous Female Impersonator" Zhu Zhiyu, Janice Wickeri
荒山之恋 Love on a Barren Mountain Eva Hung
小城之恋 Love in a Small Town
1987 锦绣谷之恋 Brocade Valley Bonnie S. McDougall, Chen Maiping
面对自己 "Needed: A Spirit of Courageous Self-Examination" Ellen Lai-shan Yeung
1988 女作家的自我 "A Woman Writer's Sense of Self" Wang Lingzhen, Mary Ann O'Donnell
1989 弟兄们 "Brothers" Diana B. Kingsbury
Jingyuan Zhang
1991 妙妙 "Miaomiao" Don J. Cohn
乌托邦诗篇 "Utopian Verses" Wang Lingzhen, Mary Ann O'Donnell
1995 长恨歌 The Song of Everlasting Sorrow Michael Berry, Susan Chan Egan
1996 姊妹们 "Sisters" Ihor Pidhainy, Xiao-miao Lan
1998 忧伤的年代 "Years of Sadness" Wang Lingzhen, Mary Ann O'Donnell
丧钟为谁而鸣 "For Whom the Bell Tolls" Gao Jin
遗民 "Inhabitants of a Vintage Era" Yawtsong Lee
大学生 "The Grand Student"
小饭店 "The Little Restaurant"
1999 喜宴 "Wedding Banquet" Yuvonne Yee
"A Nuptial Banquet" Yawtsong Lee
开会 "The Meeting"
花园的小红 "Xiao Hong of the Village of Huayuan"
"Little Rouge of the Garden Village" Wang Mingjie
街灯底下 "Under the Street Lights" Shin Yong Robson
艺人之死 "The Death of an Artist" Hu Ying
2000 王汉芳 "Wang Hanfang"
2002 投我以木桃,报之以琼瑶 "A Peach Was Presented Me, I Returned a Fine Jade" Gao Jin
云低处 "In the Belly of the Fog" Canaan Morse
闺中 "Maiden Days in the Boudoir" Wang Zhiguang
2003 发廊情话 "Confidences in a Hair Salon" Shi Xiaojing
"Love Talk at Hairdresser's" Hui L. Glennie, John R. Glennie
2008 黑弄堂 "The Dark Alley" Canaan Morse
骄傲的皮匠 "The Sanctimonious Cobbler" Andrea Lingenfelter

Major awards

  • 1982: 4th National Short Story Prize, "The Destination"
  • 1983: 2nd National Novella Prize, Lapse of Time
  • 1987: 4th National Novella Prize, Baotown
  • 2000: 5th Mao Dun Literature Prize, The Song of Everlasting Sorrow
  • 2004: 3rd Lu Xun Literary Prize, "Confidences in a Hair Salon"
  • 2012: 4th Dream of the Red Chamber Award, Scent of Heaven (天香)
  • 2013: France's Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
  • 2017: 5th Newman Prize for Chinese Literature

Wang was also a finalist for the 4th Man Booker International Prize in 2011.

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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