SU DE, PEN NAME OF WANG YI (1981— ) - The Dictionary

Chinese Literature - Li-hua Ying 2010

The Dictionary

SU DE, PEN NAME OF WANG YI (1981— ). Fiction writer. Born and raised in Shanghai, Su De began writing short stories and essays at the age of 14. She attended the Young Writers’ Workshop at the Lu Xun Institute of Literature and graduated from East China Normal University. Like Xiao Fan and many other post-1980s generation writers, Su De’s career was launched by Mengya (Sprouts), a literary journal for young readers. Her first story, “Wo shi Lanse” (I Am Blue), a sentimental tale about a girl named Blue, appeared in 2001 in Mengya, which put out more of her stories in the following years. Her work also appeared on the Internet, mostly on, a popular literary website that has published several of her stories. After she had attracted a sizable following among online readers, Su De was then embraced by the mainstream literary establishment. In 2002, Zhishi Press issued Yan zhe wo huangliang de e (Along My Desolate Forehead), a collection of short stories. The following year saw the publication of another short story collection, Ci malu shang wo yao shuo gushi (I Want to Tell Stories in the Streets). Ganggui shang de aiqing (Love on the Rails), hailed as her best work so far, came out in 2004. In 2005, Shu (Atonement) was published.

Nearly all of Su De’s stories are about urban youths and their emotional ups and downs. Most of her characters come from broken families and lead lonely lives; they are vulnerable and cynical, sensitive and cruel, with deep psychological scars. “Yan shi” (Gone like Smoke), for example, addresses passionate love and the confusion, inner turmoil, and depression associated with sexual desire. Ganggui shang de aiqing is a tragic story of two star-crossed lovers who grew up as brother and sister but share no blood relations. Their “incestuous” affair drives their parents to death. Feelings of guilt force the lovers apart, like two rails traveling in the same direction but never connecting. In the end, depression drives the young man to suicide and the young woman into self-imposed exile. Su De is noted for the skillfully woven labyrinthine plots and the sophisticated language that represent her narrative style, as well as the nuanced portrayals of distrustful and insecure teenage characters who are featured prominently in her writings. See also WOMEN.