Chinese Literature - Li-hua Ying 2010
LIANG XIAOSHENG (1949— )
LIANG XIAOSHENG (1949— ). Novelist. Born into a working-class family in Harbin, Heilongjiang Province, Liang Xiaosheng is known primarily for his portraits of the Red Guards and the educated youth, the same generation to which Liang belongs. He spent several years working on the state farms of Beidahuang (the Great Northern Wilderness), a region in the northeastern frontier bordering the former Soviet Union, an experience that informs most of his writing. After graduating from Fudan University with a degree in creative writing, Liang worked as an editor in the Beijing Film Studio and a screenplay writer in the Chinese Children’s Film Studio. Currently, he teaches at the Chinese Culture University in Beijing.
The themes of innocence and victimization run throughout Liang’s work. He portrays his generation as innocent youths taught to think of themselves as heroes and their sacrifices as necessary for the improvement of humanity. While lamenting the romantic idealism of the era, Liang describes the collapse of the utopian edifice built through years of political indoctrination, making his generation’s sense of loss and disillusionment excruciatingly tragic. Jinye you baofeng xue (Snowstorm Tonight), Napian shenqi de tudi (Wondrous Land), and Xue cheng (City of Snow) portray the difficult but romantic lives of the educated youth battling the harsh conditions of the northeastern wilderness and the eventual disillusionment when the farms were disbanded and the educated youth returned en masse to the cities. Continuing to focus on the fate of the educated youth in his later works, Liang depicts their sense of dislocation and alienation in a society centered on consumerism and market globalization. The sense of nostalgia and loss expressed in works such as Yige hongweibing de zibai (Confession of a Red Guard) reflects the feelings of the disfranchised former Red Guards, now middle aged, struggling to survive in an increasingly materialistic society. Other works, such as Fu cheng (A Restless City) and Jiusan duanxiang (Random Thoughts of 1993), satirize the greediness and bureaucratic backbiting of the new economic era and express a pessimistic view of the corrupt and unjust Chinese society. Liang is a writer with a strong sense of social responsibility and his impassioned cries for the underprivileged class show his commitment to using literature as a vehicle to champion social justice. See also CULTURAL REVOLUTION.