NIE HUALING (1925— ) - The Dictionary

Chinese Literature - Li-hua Ying 2010

NIE HUALING (1925— )
The Dictionary

NIE HUALING (1925— ). Fiction and prose writer. Born in Hubei Province, Nie Hualing graduated from Central University with a degree in English. She moved to Taiwan in 1949 to work as a literary editor for Ziyou Zhongguo (Free China), a bimonthly journal that promoted liberal ideals, and soon after began to publish stories. In 1964, Nie went to the United States to participate in the Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa. In 1967, Nie and her future husband, Paul Engle, established the International Writing Program, which attracted many writers from all over the world. During the 21 years the couple ran the program, hundreds of writers were invited to Iowa City, including more than 80 from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the mainland. For their tireless effort to promote exchange among writers of different cultures and countries, Nie and Engle received numerous awards, including the Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts from the Governors Association. Nie retired from the University of Iowa in 1988.

Nie’s best-known work is a fictional piece entitled Sangqing yu Taohong (Mulberry and Peach: Two Women of China) about a woman’s transformation from innocent youth to hardened middle age. Mulberry and Peach, two different aspects of the same person, represent self-alienation of the individual, calling into question the meaning of self-identity. Told in the form of journal entries and letters, the story centers on the theme of exile, underscoring the attempt to flee from various kinds of predicament, both external and internal. Another work, San sheng san shi (Three Lives in Three Worlds), is an autobiographical account of the author’s life in China, Taiwan, and the United States. For her portrayals of strong female characters, Nie is regarded as one of the forerunners of Taiwan’s feminist movement.