SHI SHUQING, A.K.A. SHI SHU-CH’ING (1945— ) - The Dictionary

Chinese Literature - Li-hua Ying 2010

The Dictionary

SHI SHUQING, A.K.A. SHI SHU-CH’ING (1945— ). Novelist. Born and educated in Taiwan, Shi Shuqing, whose influence crosses the geographical and political boundaries separating Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the mainland, began her literary career with stories about her native Lugang, a small town in Taiwan. Tales such as “Bihu” (Gecko), “Ci Guanyin” (The Porcelain Guanyin), and “Nixiangmen de jidian” (The Fiesta of the Clay Statues) are teeming with characters who are physically and psychologically disfigured and whose world is rampant with madness, psychosis, morbidity, and death. With these gothic stories, Shi was recognized as an experimental, avant-garde writer interested in exploring the alienating effects of modern society on the lives of the individual, a theme that would make recurring appearances in her later works. After Shi moved to New York to study theater at the City University of New York, she wrote a series of stories on immigrants’ lives in the global capitalist economy.

In 1979, Shi settled in Hong Kong, which became the setting for some of her major works, including stories collected in Xianggang de gushi (Hong Kong Stories) such as the novella “Weiduoliya julebu” (The Victoria Club). Her most celebrated books on Hong Kong are her Xianggang sanbuqu (The Hong Kong Trilogy). This ambitious project traces four generations of one family from the late 19th century, when the British took possession of Hong Kong, to 1997 when the city was handed over to the Chinese. The protagonist is a woman named Huang Deyun, whose metamorphosis from a village girl, kidnapped and sold into prostitution, to a powerful businesswoman serves as a representation of Hong Kong during its turbulent century of colonial possession, as it changed from its humble beginnings as a plague-ridden port to a gleaming metropolis, the “pearl” on the crown of the British Empire. Grand in its epic scale, the novel is also a rich study of race and gender, providing interesting material for postcolonial and feminist studies.

In Weixun caizhuang (Blush of Intoxication), her first novel since her return to Taiwan, Shi turns her attention to the process of Westernization. The novel treats the business of importing Western wine and its consumption in Taiwanese society during the late 1990s, delivering a powerful exposé of the culture of a wine market created and manipulated by a group of imaginative but shady business dealers.