Wang Anyi

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Wang Anyi
Born (1954-03-06) March 6, 1954 (age 65)
Nanjing, Jiangsu, China
Genrefiction, prose
Literary movementXungen movement
Notable worksThe Song of Everlasting Sorrow (1995)
SpouseLi Zhang (李章)
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese
Simplified Chinese

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[edit]

The second of three children of writers Wang Xiaoping (王啸平) and Ru Zhijuan, 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[1] and developed a habit of reading herself to sleep at a young age.[2] She has an elder brother Wang Annuo (王安诺) and a younger brother Wang Anwei (王安桅).[3]


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."[4]

During the lonely years in the countryside, "reading books and writing in my diary became even more precious to me".[2] 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).[4]

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.[5] 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.[6] 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'."[7]

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[who?] as a modern classic.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

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.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Wang is married to Li Zhang. They have no children.[9][10]

Works translated to English[edit]

Year Chinese title Translated English title Translator(s)
1979 雨,沙沙沙 "And the Rain Patters On"[1] Michael Day
1980 小院琐记 "Life in a Small Courtyard"[1] Hu Zhihui
1981 墙基 "The Base of the Wall"[1] Daniel Bryant
朋友 "Friends"[11] Nancy Lee
本次列车终点 "The Destination"[1] Yu Fanqin
1982 流逝 Lapse of Time[1] Howard Goldblatt
舞台小世界 "The Stage, a Miniature World"[1] Song Shouquan
1984 人人之间 "Between Themselves"[1] Gladys Yang
话说老秉 "Speaking of Old Bing"[12] Chad Phelan
1985 我为什么写作 "Why I Write"[2] Michael Berry
小鲍庄 Baotown[13] Martha Avery
母亲 "Mother"[14] Todd Foley
老康回来 "Lao Kang Came Back"[15] Jeanne Tai
"Lao Kang Is Back"[16] Denis C. Mair
阿跷传略 "The Story of Ah Qiao" Yawtsong Lee[17]
1986 阿芳的灯 "Ah Fang's Light"
鸠雀一战 "The Nest Fight"
"Birds Fighting for a Nest"[18] Nigel Bedford
名旦之口 "The Mouth of the Famous Female Impersonator"[19] Zhu Zhiyu, Janice Wickeri
荒山之恋 Love on a Barren Mountain[20] Eva Hung
小城之恋 Love in a Small Town[21]
1987 锦绣谷之恋 Brocade Valley[22] Bonnie S. McDougall, Chen Maiping
面对自己 "Needed: A Spirit of Courageous Self-Examination"[23] Ellen Lai-shan Yeung
1988 女作家的自我 "A Woman Writer's Sense of Self"[6] Wang Lingzhen, Mary Ann O'Donnell
1989 弟兄们 "Brothers" Diana B. Kingsbury[24]
Jingyuan Zhang[25]
1991 妙妙 "Miaomiao"[26] Don J. Cohn
乌托邦诗篇 "Utopian Verses"[6] 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"[27] Ihor Pidhainy, Xiao-miao Lan
我爱比尔 “I Love Bill" (excerpt)[28] Todd Foley
1997 文工团 ”The Troupe" (excerpt)[29] Todd Foley
1998 忧伤的年代 "Years of Sadness"[6] Wang Lingzhen, Mary Ann O'Donnell
丧钟为谁而鸣 "For Whom the Bell Tolls"[30] Gao Jin
天仙配 “Match Made in Heaven"[31] Todd Foley
遗民 "Inhabitants of a Vintage Era" Yawtsong Lee[17]
大学生 "The Grand Student"
小饭店 "The Little Restaurant"
1999 喜宴 "Wedding Banquet"[32] Yuvonne Yee
"A Nuptial Banquet" Yawtsong Lee[17]
开会 "The Meeting"
花园的小红 "Xiao Hong of the Village of Huayuan"
"Little Rouge of the Garden Village"[33] Wang Mingjie
街灯底下 "Under the Street Lights"[34] Shin Yong Robson
艺人之死 "The Death of an Artist"[35] Hu Ying
2000 王汉芳 "Wang Hanfang"[36]
2001 民工刘建华 "Liu Jianhua the Migrant Worker"[37] Sylvia Yu, Benjamin Chang, Chris Malone
2002 投我以木桃,报之以琼瑶 "A Peach Was Presented Me, I Returned a Fine Jade"[30] Gao Jin
云低处 "In the Belly of the Fog"[38] Canaan Morse
闺中 "Maiden Days in the Boudoir"[39] Wang Zhiguang
2003 发廊情话 "Confidences in a Hair Salon"[40] Shi Xiaojing
"Love Talk at Hairdresser's"[41] Hui L. Glennie, John R. Glennie
2008 黑弄堂 "The Dark Alley"[42] Canaan Morse
骄傲的皮匠 "The Sanctimonious Cobbler"[43] Andrea Lingenfelter

Major awards[edit]

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


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Lapse of Time. China Books. 1988. ISBN 978-0-8351-2032-6.
  2. ^ a b c Chinese Writers on Writing. Trinity University Press. 2010. ISBN 978-1-59534-063-4.
  3. ^ 王安忆的文学之路 Retrieved 2017-01-14
  4. ^ a b Leung, Laifong (1994). "Wang Anyi: Restless Explorer". Morning Sun: Interviews with Chinese Writers of the Lost Generation. M.E. Sharpe. pp. 177–87. ISBN 978-1-56324-093-5.
  5. ^ Wang, Lingzhen (2003). "Wang Anyi". In Mostow, Joshua S. (ed.). The Columbia Companion to Modern East Asian Literature. Columbia University Press. pp. 592–7. ISBN 978-0-231-11314-4.
  6. ^ a b c d Years of Sadness. Cornell University. 2009. ISBN 978-1-933947-47-1.
  7. ^ Ying Hong (1991). "Wang Anyi and Her Fiction". In Ying Bian (ed.). The Time Is Not Yet Ripe: Contemporary China's Best Writers and Their Stories. Translated by Katharina A. Byrne. Foreign Languages Press. pp. 217–24. ISBN 978-7-119-00742-7.
  8. ^ 王安忆教授的复旦十年 Retrieved 2017-01-14
  9. ^ 王安忆:文学能使人生变得有趣 Retrieved 2017-01-14
  10. ^ 王安忆作品开展 Retrieved 2017-01-14
  11. ^ The Rose Colored Dinner: New Works by Contemporary Chinese Women Writers. Joint Publishing. 1988. ISBN 978-962-04-0615-7.
  12. ^ Chinese Literature, Autumn 1989.
  13. ^ Baotown. Viking Press. 1989. ISBN 978-0-670-82622-3.
  14. ^ Wang, Anyi. "Mother". Frontiers of Literary Studies in China. 12 (1): 5–19. doi:10.3868/so10-007-018-0002-5 (inactive 2019-02-10).
  15. ^ Spring Bamboo: A Collection of Contemporary Chinese Short Stories. Random House. 1989. ISBN 978-0-394-56582-8.
  16. ^ The Time Is Not Yet Ripe: Contemporary China's Best Writers and Their Stories. Foreign Languages Press. 1991. ISBN 978-7-119-00742-7.
  17. ^ a b c The Little Restaurant. Better Link Press. 2010. ISBN 978-1-60220-225-2.
  18. ^ Renditions (39), Spring 1993.
  19. ^ Renditions (27 & 28), 1987.
  20. ^ Love on a Barren Mountain. The Chinese University of Hong Kong. 1991. ISBN 978-962-7255-09-3.
  21. ^ Love in a Small Town. The Chinese University of Hong Kong. 1988. ISBN 978-962-7255-03-1.
  22. ^ Brocade Valley. New Directions Publishing. 1992. ISBN 978-0-8112-1224-3.
  23. ^ Modern Chinese Writers: Self-Portrayals. M. E. Sharpe. 1992. ISBN 978-0-87332-817-3.
  24. ^ I Wish I Were a Wolf: The New Voice in Chinese Women's Literature. New World Press. 1994. ISBN 978-7-80005-124-1.
  25. ^ Red Is Not the Only Color: Contemporary Chinese Fiction on Love and Sex Between Women, Collected Stories. Rowman & Littlefield. 2001. ISBN 978-0-7425-1137-8.
  26. ^ Six Contemporary Chinese Women Writers (IV). Chinese Literature Press. 1995. ISBN 978-7-5071-0297-0.
  27. ^ Dragonflies: Fiction by Chinese Women in the Twentieth Century. Cornell University. 2003. ISBN 978-1-885445-15-5.
  28. ^ Wang, Anyi. "I Love Bill". Frontiers of Literary Studies in China. 12 (1): 43–65. doi:10.3868/so10-007-018-0004-9 (inactive 2019-02-10).
  29. ^ Wang, Anyi (2018). "The Troupe". Frontiers of Literary Studies in China. 12 (4): 645–673. doi:10.3868/s010-007-018-0030-2 (inactive 2019-02-10).
  30. ^ a b One China, Many Paths. Verso Books. 2003. ISBN 978-1-85984-537-0.
  31. ^ Wang, Anyi. "Match Made in Heaven". Frontiers of Literary Studies in China. 12 (1): 20–42. doi:10.3868/so10-007-018-0003-2 (inactive 2019-02-10).
  32. ^ Street Wizards and Other New Folklore. Foreign Languages Press. 2009. ISBN 978-7-119-05749-1.
  33. ^ Chinese Literature, September–October 2000.
  34. ^ Renditions (69), Spring 2008.
  35. ^ The Mystified Boat: Postmodern Stories from China. University of Hawaiʻi Press. 2003. ISBN 978-0-8248-2799-1.
  36. ^ Words Without Borders, April 2008.
  37. ^ Under the Eaves: Selected Short Stories by Contemporary Writers from Shanghai(I). Better Link Press. 2008. ISBN 978-1-60220-207-8.
  38. ^ Keep Running, Little Brother. Foreign Languages Press. 2014. ISBN 978-7-119-09311-6.
  39. ^ How Far Is Forever and More Stories by Women Writers. Foreign Languages Press. 2008. ISBN 978-7-119-05436-0.
  40. ^ The Great Masque and More Stories of Life in the City. Foreign Languages Press. 2008. ISBN 978-7-119-05437-7.
  41. ^ Renditions (86), Autumn 2016.
  42. ^ A Voice from the Beyond. Foreign Languages Press. 2014. ISBN 978-7-119-09309-3.
  43. ^ By the River: Seven Contemporary Chinese Novellas. University of Oklahoma Press. 2016. ISBN 978-0-8061-5404-6.
  44. ^ 王安忆获"法国文学艺术骑士勋章" 忆法国情结, 2013-09-29, Retrieved 2017-01-14
  45. ^ "Book on Urban Immigration Wins at 2nd JD Literature Prize". Retrieved 5 June 2018.