Su Tong

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Tong Zhonggui
Native name
BornJanuary 1963 (age 61)
Suzhou, Jiangsu, China
Pen nameSu Tong (苏童)
Alma materBeijing Normal University
Notable worksShadow of the Hunter
Notable awards9th Mao Dun Literature Prize
2015 Shadow of the Hunter

Tong Zhonggui (Chinese: 童忠贵; pinyin: Tóng Zhōngguì; born January 23, 1963), known by the pen name of Su Tong (苏童; 蘇童; Sū Tóng) is a Chinese writer. He was born in Suzhou and lives in Nanjing.[1]

He entered the Department of Chinese at Beijing Normal University in 1980, and started to publish novels in 1983. He is now vice president of the Jiangsu Writers Association.[2] Known for his controversial writing style, Su is one of the most acclaimed novelists in China.[3]


Su has written seven full-length novels and over 200 short stories, some of which have been translated into English, German, Italian and French.[4]

He is best known in the West for his novella Raise the Red Lantern (originally titled Wives and Concubines), published in 1990. The book was adapted into the film, Raise the Red Lantern by director Zhang Yimou. The book has since been published under the name given to the film in the English version and in some other versions. His other works available in English translation are Rice, My Life as Emperor, Petulia's Rouge Tin (Hongfen in Chinese), Binu and the Great Wall (tr. Howard Goldblatt), Madwoman on the Bridge and Other Stories, Tattoo: Three Novellas and The Boat to Redemption, also translated by Goldblatt.

His novel Petulia's Rouge Tin, about two Shanghai prostitutes at the time of Liberation in 1949, has been adapted to two films: Li Shaohong's Blush (Hongfen, 1994) and Huang Shuqin's Rouged Beauties (Hongfen Jiaren, 1995).[5]

In 2009, he was awarded the Man Asian Literary Prize for his work The Boat to Redemption, the second Chinese writer to win the prize.[6]

In 2011, Su Tong was nominated to win the Man Booker International Prize.[7] In 2015, he was a co-winner of the Mao Dun Literature Prize for Shadow of the Hunter.[8]

Selected works in translation[edit]

  • Midnight Stories. Translator Honey Watson. Horsham: Sinoist Books. November 2024.
  • Missives from the Masses. Translator Josh Stenberg. Horsham: Sinoist Books. February 2024. ISBN 9781838905651
  • Open-Air Cinema: Reminiscences and Micro-Essays from the Author of Raise the Red Lantern. Translators Haiwang Yuan, James Trapp, Nicky Harman, Olivia Milburn. Horsham: Sinoist Books. October 2021. ISBN 9781838905248
  • Shadow of the Hunter. Translator James Trapp. London: ACA Publishing. May 2020. ISBN 9781838905057
  • Petulia's Rouge Tin. Translated by Jane Weizhen Pan; Martin Merz. Penguin Specials. 2018.
  • Tattoo: Three Novellas. Translated by Josh Stenberg. Portland, Me.: MerwinAsia. 2010. ISBN 9780552774543.
  • The Boat to Redemption. Translated by Howard Goldblatt. London: Black Swan. July 2010. ISBN 9780552774543.
  • Binu and the Great Wall of China. Translated by Howard Goldblatt. Edinburgh: Canongate Books. August 2009.
  • Madwoman on the Bridge. Translated by Josh Stenberg. London: Black Swan. August 2008. ISBN 9780552774529.
  • My Life as Emperor. Translated by Howard Goldblatt. Hyperion East. 2005.
  • Rice. Translated by Howard Goldblatt. New York: Perennial. 2004. ISBN 0060596325.
  • Raise the Red Lantern: Three Novellas. Translated by Michael S. Duke. New York: Penguin Books. 1996. ISBN 0140260307.
    • Includes Raise the Red Lantern, Nineteen Thirty-four Escapes (Chinese: 一九三四年的逃亡; pinyin: Yījiǔsānsì Nián de Táowáng), and Opium Family (罂粟之家; Yīngsù zhī Jiā). The second novella, told in the first person, is about an impoverished peasant family. The third story is about an opium poppy-growing family that experiences hardship; this work is told in both the first and third person perspectives.[9]
    • In the latter two novellas, Duke had stated "that wherever the English seems strange it is because the Chinese was also purposefully so".[10] Gary Krist of The New York Times felt the translations had a "rambling nature" that became "merely awkward, unrevealing and occasionally tedious."[10] Because of Duke's statement, Krist was unsure whether the awkwardness came from Su Tong or from Duke.[10] Publishers Weekly stated that a "hand-me-down quality of oral history" where the reader is unsure of the truth is reflected in Nineteen Thirty-four Escapes.[9] Publishers Weekly praised how the third novella shifts perspectives and wrote that Opium Family is "the most structurally and thematically complex of the novellas."[9]


  1. ^ Hua Li, Contemporary Chinese Fiction by Su Tong and Yu Hua: Coming of Age in Troubled Times (BRILL, 2011) p90
  2. ^ "苏童_中国作家网". Retrieved May 7, 2021.
  3. ^ [dead link]
  4. ^ [dead link]
  5. ^ Davis, Edward L. (2009). Encyclopedia of Contemporary Chinese Culture. Taylor & Francis. p. 790. ISBN 978-0-415-77716-2.
  6. ^ Lam, Tiffany (18 November 2009). "Road to Redemption: Su Tong's literary smash", CNNGo.
  7. ^ "Three Asian authors make the Man Booker International Prize shortlist". Asia Pacific Arts. April 5, 2011. Archived from the original on 2011-05-02.
  8. ^ "Winners of 2015 Mao Dun Literature Prize announced". GBTimes. August 17, 2015. Retrieved August 18, 2015.
  9. ^ a b c "Raise the Red Lantern: Three Novellas". Publishers Weekly. 1993-06-28. Retrieved 2022-09-16.
  10. ^ a b c Krist, Gary (1993-07-25). "The Junior Wife's Story". The New York Times. Retrieved 2022-09-08.