Geling Yan

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Geling Yan
Yan Geling at Frankfurt bookfair 2014
Yan Geling at Frankfurt bookfair 2014
Born 严歌苓
(1958-11-16) 16 November 1958 (age 59)
Shanghai, China
Occupation Novelist, screenwriter
Nationality American
Alma mater Wuhan University
Columbia College Chicago
Notable works A Woman's Epic
Spouse Li Kewei
Lawrence Walker
Children 1

Geling Yan (simplified Chinese: 严歌苓; traditional Chinese: 嚴歌苓; pinyin: Yán Gēlíng; born 16 November 1958[1]) is a prominent Chinese-American writer,[2] author of several novels, short stories and screenplays. Much of her work has been adapted for film. She is currently represented by the Hong Kong-based Peony Literary Agency.[3]

Early life[edit]

Yan was born in Shanghai, China in 1959. She is the second child of Yan Dunxun and Jia Lin. She has an elder brother Yan Geping (严歌平).[4] Her father is an alumnus of the College of Architecture and Urban Planning of Tongji University.[5]

Yan began performing as a dancer at age 12. She served in the People's Liberation Army during the Cultural Revolution, in Tibet and later as a journalist in the Sino-Vietnamese War, achieving a rank equivalent to lieutenant colonel.



Her first novel was published in 1985. She is the author of such novels as The Banquet Bug (published as The Uninvited in the UK) and The Lost Daughter of Happiness, as well as a story collection entitled White Snake and Other Stories. Several of Yan's works have been adapted for film, including Xiu Xiu: The Sent-Down Girl, which was directed by Joan Chen, and Siao Yu, directed by Sylvia Chang and screenplay co-written by Ang Lee. Zhang Yimou, the Chinese director of To Live and Raise the Red Lantern adapted her novella 13 Flowers of Nanjing to the screen as The Flowers of War, and his movie Coming Home was based on Yan's novel The Criminal Lu Yanshi.[6] She has worked on other scripts including a biography of Mei Lanfang, the Peking opera star, for Chinese director Chen Kaige.

Novels in English[edit]

  • The Banquet Bug (written in English, published as The Uninvited in the UK)[7]
  • The Lost Daughter of Happiness (tr. Cathy Silber, Chinese title Fusang 《扶桑》)[8]
  • The Flowers of War (tr. Nicky Harman, Chinese title Jinling shisan chai 《金陵十三钗》)[9]
  • Little Aunt Crane (tr. Esther Tyldesley, Chinese title Xiaoyi Duohe 《小姨多鶴》)[10]
  • The Criminal Lu Yanshi (adapted into a movie, titled Coming Home)

Novels in Chinese[edit]

  • 芳华(Youth) [11]

Short stories in English[edit]


She is a member of the Hollywood Writer's Guild of America and the Writer's Association of China.

Education background[edit]

Yan holds a bachelor's degree in literature from Wuhan University, and a Master's in Fine Arts in Fiction Writing from Columbia College Chicago.

Personal life[edit]

Yan's ex-husband is Li Kewei; they divorced in the 1990s. In 1992, Yan married her second husband Lawrence Walker in Los Angeles. Walker is a diplomat. They have no biological children together, but have adopted a little Chinese girl,Yanyan.[15]


External links[edit]