|Born||Jia Pingwa (贾平娃)
21 February 1952
Dihua Village, Danfeng County, Shangluo Special Administrative Region, Shaanxi, China
|Pen name||Jia Pingwa|
|Education||Northwest University (1971-5)|
|Period||1973 – present|
|Notable works||Ruined City,
|Spouse||Han Junfang (韩俊芳)
Guo Mei (郭梅)
|Children||Jia Qianqian (贾浅浅)
Jia Ruo (贾若)
Jia Pingwa (simplified Chinese: 贾平娃; traditional Chinese: 賈平娃; pinyin: Jiǎ Píngwá; born 21 February 1952), better known by his penname Jia Pingwa (simplified Chinese: 贾平凹; traditional Chinese: 賈平凹; pinyin: Jiǎ Píngwā), is one of China's most popular authors of novels, short stories, poetry, and non-fiction. He was born in 1952 in Dihua Village, Danfeng County, Shangluo Special Administrative Region (present-day Shangluo City), Shaanxi, later graduating from Northwest University in Xi'an. His most well-known novels include Ruined City, which was banned by the State Publishing Administration for over 17 years for its explicit sexual content, and Qin Opera, winner of the 2009 Mao Dun Literature Prize.
Early life and teen years
Born only three years after the founding of the People's Republic of China, as the son of a school teacher, Jia Yanchun (贾彦春), Jia had an early role model for his later decision to become a writer. Due to a shortage of qualified teachers in Shaanxi at the time, however, Jia's father was often away from home and so he spent much of his early childhood with his mother, Zhou Xiao'e (周小鹅). With the advent of the Cultural Revolution in 1966, Jia Yanchun was accused of being a counter-revolutionary and he spent the next ten years in a labor camp. Three years later, with the closing of all schools in China following the excesses of the Red Guards, Jia was dispatched with his classmates to build reservoirs in the countryside.
Jia's given name, Píngwá 平娃, literally means 'ordinary child', a name suggested to Jia's parents by a fortune teller following the death of their first born child. He later chose the pen name Píngwā 平凹, a play on his given name， as the character for 'ordinary' also means 'flat', and in southern Shaanxi dialect the character for 'concave' (and by extension 'uneven') 凹 is pronounced wā, similar to wá or 'child' in his given name. Because 'uneven' 凹 is pronounced āo in Standard Chinese, however, his name is often misread as Píng'āo.
Education and early career
While working on the production brigade, Jia had the good fortune to attract the attention of local party cadres after volunteering to write revolutionary slogans, and thanks to their support he was sent to study literature at Northwest University in Xi'an in 1971. Two years later, Jia's first short story, "A Pair of Socks", appeared in The Xi'an Daily, and was soon followed by many others. After graduating in 1975 Jia found employment at Shaanxi People's Publishing House editing the monthly magazine Chang’an, and in 1978 his short story "Full Moon" won a national award from the China Writers Association. These early were collected in Soldier Boy and Morning Songs. Like many stories published during this period (but quite different from his later work), Jia's early stories feature brave young men and women committed to the cause of Chinese socialism.
Turn towards native-place fiction
Inspired perhaps by the worsening health of his father, who had fallen into alcoholism, in 1980 Jia published his first collection of rural fiction set in his home province of Shaanxi, Notes from the Highlands, and in 1982, on the strength of his published short stories and essays, Jia was admitted the Xi'an Literary Federation, allowing him to pursue writing full-time. Although he found himself under greater scrutiny, even becoming a target of criticism during the Anti-Spiritual Pollution Campaign of late 1983, Jia's sketches of everyday life in Shangzhou (the traditional name for his native region) were published to greater and greater success, with the novellas First Records of Shangzhou, Further Records of Shangzhou and More Records of Shangzhou appearing between 1983 and 1986.
In 1986, Jia published his first novel, Shangzhou, an account of a young fugitive who the police who suspect of having committed a robbery in the city. He decides to hide out in his rural hometown, giving Jia a narrative framework around which to structure his popular descriptions of life in the countryside. This novel was quickly followed by two more: Turbulence in 1987 and Pregnancy in 1988. This flurry of activity was interrupted by the death of Jia's father in 1989. Grief would compel Jia to take a more introspective tone with his next project, conceived as a semi-autobiographical account of a morally depraved author from the countryside who has been corrupted by fame. In the 1993 novel Ruined City, frank depictions of various sexual acts (drawing comparisons to the Ming dynasty vernacular classic the Jin Ping Mei) earned the book both a wide audience and a 17-year ban from the authorities, causing it to become one of the most pirated books in modern Chinese literature.
After Ruined City and present day
Despite the ban, Jia continued to write, publishing a trilogy of rural novels: White Nights (1995), Earth Gate (1996), and Old Gao Village (1998). This was followed by the modern fable Wolves of Yesterday (2000), about a Wu Song-like hunter chasing a modern-day environmentalist who turns into a wolf, a historical romance and counter-history Heath Report (2002), and Qin Opera (2005), a challenging work incorporating elements of local Shaanxi operas which earned him the 2008 Mao Dun Literature Award. Over the last decade, Jia has completed five additional novels: Happy (2007), Old Kiln (2011), The Lantern Bearer (2013), Lao Sheng (2014), and Jihua (2016).
In 1992 Jia was admitted to the prestigious Chinese Writers Association, later being elected Chairman of Shaanxi branch of the organization and in 2003 he was appointed dean of the School of Humanities and the Dean of the College of Arts at Xi'an University of Architecture and Technology. Additionally, he is a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and Xi'an People's Congress, a member of the Presidium of the Chinese Writers' Association, the Xi'an Literary Federation President, an honorary chairman of the Xi'an Writers' Association, the editor-in-chief of the literary journal Essay 《美文》, and writer-in-residence at the Ocean University of China.
Jia Pingwa is known for mixing traditional vernacular story-telling with modern realism in his work, which Carlos Rojas describes as being "explicitly rooted in the breathless modernization of contemporary urban China, while at the same time... [featuring] a nostalgic fascination with the historical tradition which that same modernization process simultaneously threatens to erase."
List of works
- Shangzhou (商州, 1986) Shangzhou, currently untranslated.
- Fuzao (浮躁, 1987) English translation Turbulence by Howard Goldblatt (Louisiana State University Press, 1991, republished by Grove Press, 2003). Winner of the 1991 Pegasus Prize.
- Renshen (妊娠, 1988) Pregnancy, currently untranslated.
- Fei Du (废都, 1993) English translation Ruined City by Howard Goldblatt (University of Oklahoma Press, 2016). Also known in English as Defunct Capital and Abandoned Capital.
- Bai Ye (白夜， 1995) White Nights, currently untranslated.
- Tu Men (土门, 1996) Earth Gate, currently untranslated.
- Gao Lao Zhuang (高老庄, 1998) Old Gao Village, currently untranslated.
- Huinian Lang (怀念狼, 2000) Wolves of Yesterday, currently untranslated.
- Bingxiang Baogao (病相报告, 2002) Health Report, currently untranslated.
- Qin Qiang (秦腔, 2005) Qin Opera, short sample translation by Dylan Levi King in Chinese Literature Today. Winner of the 2008 Mao Dun Literature Prize.
- Gaoxing (高兴, 2007), English translation Happy by Nicky Harman (AmazonCrossing, 2017) .
- Gu Lu (古炉, 2011) Short sample translation Old Kiln by Canaan Morse on Paper Republic.
- Dai Deng (带灯, 2013) English translation The Lantern Bearer (2016) by Carlos Rojas.
- Lao Sheng (老生, 2014), Lao Sheng, currently untranslated.
- Jihua (极花, 2016) Jihua, currently untranslated.
Short story collections:
- Bing Wa 兵娃 (Boy soldier, 1977)
- Shandi Biji 山地笔记 (Mountain notes, 1980)
- Layue, Zhengyue 腊月，正月 (December and January, 1985)
- Tiangou 天狗 (Heavenly dog, 1986)
- Heishi 黑氏 (Black clan, 1993)
- Zhizao Shengyin 制造声音 (Creating sounds, 1998)
- Jiaozi Guan 饺子馆 (Dumpling restaurant, 2002)
- Yishujia Han Qixiang 艺术家韩起祥 (The artist Han Qixiang, 2006), etc.
- Yueji 月迹 (The trace of the moon, 1982),
- Shangzhou Sanlu 商州三录 (Three chapters about Shangzhou, 1986)
- Hong Hu 红狐 (Red fox, 1994)
- Zao Yizuo Fangzi Zhu Meng 造一座房子住梦 (Build a house to live in a dream, 1998)
- Qiao Men 敲门 (Knock on the door, 1998)
- Wo Shi Nongmin 我是农民 (I am a peasant, 1998)
- Lao Xi'an: Feidu Xieyang 老西安：废都斜阳 (Old Xi'an: the deserted capital in sunset, 1999), etc.
- "Blank", etc.
Awards and honours
- 1978, Best Short Story of the Year for Full Moon.
- This short story was first published in the literary magazine Shanghai Art, 3rd Volume, 1978.
- 1984, The Best Novel of the Third National Novellas for December and January.
- This novel was first published in the literary magazine October, 5th Volume, 1984.
- 1991, the Pegasus prize in literature for Turbulence: A Novel.
- 1991 August 21, Zhuang Zhongwen Literature Prize.
- 1997, French Prix Femina étranger for La Capitale déchue, Genevieve Imbot-Bichet's translation of Ruined City into French.
- 2003, Knight of Arts and Literature by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication.
- 2004, 3rd Lu Xun Literature Prize in excellent prose and Essays for Jia Pingwa’s Lengthy Prose Selection.
- Published in September 2003 by Shaanxi People's Publishing House.
- 2006, Hong Kong The Dream of the Red Chamber Award: The World’s Distinguished Novel in Chinese" for Shaanxi Opera.
- 2006 June 24, he won the Outstanding Achievement Award from Liu Qing Literature Prize.
- 2007 September 20, 1st Pu Songling Literature Short Story Prize for Dumpling Restaurant.
- 2008, 7th Mao Dun Literature Prize for Shaanxi Opera.
- This novel was first published in the literary magazine Harvest, the book was first published by Writers Publishing House.
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- For outline summaries of the novels, see Nick Stember's post "Jia Pingwa as Global Literature" https://glli-us.org/2017/02/20/jia-pingwa-as-global-literature-by-nick-stember/
- Fictional Authors, Imaginary Audiences: Modern Chinese Literature ... 2003 p260 "Jia Pingwa (male, b. 1952) established his reputation as a nativist writer in the 1980s. His novel Fuzao (Beijing: Zuojia chubanshe, 1988; translated as Turbulence, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1991), which won the 1988 Pegasus Prize"
- Orthofer, M.A. (20 March 2016). "The Complete Review: Ruined City - Jia Pingwa". Retrieved 4 June 2016.
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- Chinese Writers on Writing featuring Jia Pingwa. Ed. Arthur Sze. (Trinity University Press, 2010).
- "I Was Born to Write about the Countryside" essay translated from the Chinese, Goethe-Institut China Online Magazine, January 2014
- Jia Pingwa: Painter or novelist?
- Narrating China: Jia Pingwa and his Fictional World (Routledge Contemporary China Series) by Yiyan Wang Routlege, 2006 ISBN 0-415-32675-3
- Reviewed in Modern Chinese Literature and Culture by Robin Visser (2006).
- The Macho Eunuch: The Politics of Masculinity in Jia Pingwa's "Human Extremities" by Kam Louie Modern China Vol. 17, No. 2, 163-187 (1991)
- Flies' Eyes, Mural Remnants, and Jia Pingwa's Perverse Nostalgia by Carlos Rojas, positions: east Asia cultures critique 14.3 (2006) 749-773
- Intute: Arts and Humanities