LIU HENG (1954— ) - The Dictionary

Chinese Literature - Li-hua Ying 2010

LIU HENG (1954— )
The Dictionary

LIU HENG (1954— ). Novelist. Raised in a village on the outskirts of Beijing, Liu Heng worked as a farmer and a factory worker and served in the military. He is a realist writer, best known for his novellas. Most of his early stories deal with rural communities and their basic needs for daily survival. According to Liu, Chinese country life consists of four essential ingredients: food, sex, physical strength, and dreams. “Gouri de liangshi” (Dogshit Food) concerns starvation in the countryside. Fuxi fuxi (Forbidden Love), which has been adapted into the erotic movie Ju Dou by Zhang Yimo, examines the conflict between instinctual sexual desire and social taboos in a traditional society. Canghe bairimeng (Green River Daydreams) deals with the aspirations that provide spiritual sustenance for the daily life of the peasants. As a novel that goes beyond the description of village life, Canghe bairimeng is the author’s ambitious attempt at reconstructing the cultural heritage of the Chinese peasantry. Qiuju da guansi (Qiuju Goes to Court), which is the source for another of Zhang Yimo’s movies, portrays a peasant woman fighting stubbornly against the injustice done to her family by the village head.

Later Liu turned his attention to urban problems. His social novel Bai wo (White Whirls) explores the emotional and psychological conflicts of an ambitious research scientist who is trying to negotiate between a marriage to a dutiful wife and an affair with another woman. By putting the issue of sexuality under the microscope, Liu attempts to examine the soul of the Chinese intellectual in modern-day society. Another novel, Heide xue (Black Snow), probes the problems faced by a young juvenile delinquent. Pinzui Zhang Damin de xingfu shenghuo (The Happy Life of Loquacious Zhang Damin), a popular novel about a Beijing resident of the lower social echelon, has received some critical attention. See also ROOT-SEEKING LITERATURE.