Chinese Literature - Li-hua Ying 2010
PAN JUN (1957— )
PAN JUN (1957— ). Fiction writer. Born in a small town in Anhui Province, Pan Jun had a difficult and lonely childhood. His artist father, labeled a rightist one year after Pan was born, was sent to live in the countryside separated from his family for the next 18 years. Pan became known as an avant-garde writer in the late 1980s when his experimental fiction was first published, including “Nanfang de qingxu” (The Mood in the South), “Xianjin” (Trap), and “Sanyue yiri” (March the First), all about humanity’s fear and anxiety about surviving in the world. Other notable works written during this period include Baise shalong (A White Salon), “Liudong de shatan” (Moving Beach), and most important, Feng (Wind), which culminates his innovative effort with narrative techniques. Feng is written in three different narratives, representing respectively the historical perspective, the imagined world, and reality. Interlocked, they deconstruct one another, destroying the illusion that each has painstakingly created.
At the height of his success, Pan put his writing career on hold to join the business rush in the south, and in 1996, when he was financially secure, Pan resumed writing. In the second phase of his creative endeavor, Pan has produced an impressive range of works, from experimental plays to historical novels. The most significant is an autobiographical novel entitled Dubai yu shoushi (Soliloquy and Hand Gestures), in which the author and the narrator collapse to create a confessional narrative. In this tale about a writer who returns to his hometown after a long absence and reminisces about the past 30 years of his life, Pan explores self-imposed exile and historical imperative, themes that have preoccupied much of his work. The novel also manifests the author’s fascination with formalistic features through the integration of verbal narration with visual images of his own art, a talent developed during the years Pan spent in the countryside after high school. Other such innovative stories include novellas Lan bao (Blue Castle), Chong tong (Two Pupils in the Eye), Qiusheng fu (Ode to Autumn), and Taohua liushui (Peach Blossoms and Flowing Water).
Pan’s most recent book, Sixing baogao (A Report on the Death Penalty), as its title indicates, examines tradition, law, and practice with regard to the death penalty. Pan cites many international cases, including the O. J. Simpson trial in the United States, to provide a comparative framework for the Chinese cases he focuses on. Inspired by an incident in which an innocent man was beaten to death while in police custody, the book represents the author’s concern over the lack of justice and compassion in China’s legal system.