Zhao Shuli

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Zhao Shuli (simplified Chinese: 赵树理; traditional Chinese: 趙樹理; pinyin: Zhào Shùlǐ; Wade–Giles: Chao Shu-li; 1906–1970) was a novelist and a leading figure of modern Chinese literature. He died in 1970, following persecutions during the Cultural Revolution.


Born in 1906 in Qinshui County, Shanxi Province, he was originally called 趙樹禮, which, in Mandarin Chinese, was a homophone of the name he later adopted in his adult career.

Zhao's major novels include 小二黑結婚 Xiao Erhei jiehun, "Little Erhei's Marriage"; 李有才板話 Li Youcai banhua; 李家莊的變遷 Li jiazhuang de bianqian, "Fortunes of the Li Estate"; and 三里灣 San li wan, "Three Mile Bay". The action of Zhao's novels typically takes place in the countryside of Northern China. In this setting, Zhao explores the dilemmas and conflicts of villagers who are facing growing social upheaval. Zhao was renowned for achieving nuanced portrayals of the diverse cast of human characters which were to be found in provincial life. With this objective in mind, he launched the Shanyaodan (山藥蛋派) literary movement, which took its name from a Northern colloquialism for yams and marked one of the most influential developments in 20th-century Chinese writing.

Zhao was a member of the executive committee of the Chinese Writers Union and also served as the director of the Society of Chinese Authors, the president of the Society of Chinese Poets, and an editor of the journals 曲藝 Quyi ("Performing Arts") and 人民文學 Renmin Wenxue ("People's Literature"). He was also appointed a representative to the Eighth National Congress of the Communist Party of China, and a deputy in the first, second, and third sessions of the National People's Congress.

He died in 1970, having fallen victim to the persecutions that were launched against intellectuals, artists, and countless other "undesirables" during the Cultural Revolution.