BEI CUN, PEN NAME OF KANG HONG (1965— ) - The Dictionary

Chinese Literature - Li-hua Ying 2010

The Dictionary

BEI CUN, PEN NAME OF KANG HONG (1965— ). Fiction and screenplay writer. Bei Cun grew up in Fujian and studied Chinese literature at Xiamen University. In the early 1990s he was an avant-garde writer, publishing a series of sketches, including “Taowangzhe shuo” (Says the Escapee), “Jiechizhe shuo” (Says the Kidnapper), “Pijiazhe shuo” (Says the Armored), and “Guixiangzhe shuo” (Says the Returnee), all of which focus on experimenting with innovative narrative techniques. This stylistic focus was later replaced by an intense interest in exploring the human soul, the meaning of life. Works such as Shixi de he (The River of Baptism), which depicts a poet’s wandering experience, “Huanxiang” (Homecoming), an allegorical tale about the tragic fates of five poets, and “Zuihou de yishujia” (The Last Artist) all examaine human spirituality in its complicated manifestations. Laomu de qin (Laomu’s Violin), and “Zhou Yu de hanjiao” (Zhou Yu’s Shouts), which has been adapted into a movie, further explore the difficulties encountered in a spiritual journey. Salvation, as shown in the lives of the protagonists in these stories, lies in the individual’s ability to find meaning in art/poetry, which proves to be elusive at best in an era of materialism and commodification.

Since 2003, Bei Cun has published several novels, including Fennu (Furor) about a young man’s journey from the countryside to the city, from being an innocent and ambitious man to a criminal who finally comes to repent his actions while running away from the authorities, and Gonglu shang de linghun (Souls on Highways), a family saga unfolding in three generations, three countries, and three wars, connected by three highways. Compared with his earlier works, which tend to be dark and gloomy, these recent novels present life from a more upbeat and idealistic perspective, despite apparently tragic circumstances. Other than short stories and novels, Bei Cun has written screenplays as well as poetry. He currently works as an editor for Fujian wenxue (Fujian Literature).