CAO WENXUAN (1974— )
CAO WENXUAN (1974— ). Fiction writer. Born in rural Jiangsu, Cao Wenxuan graduated from the Chinese Department of Beijing University in the late 1970s. Since then, he has been teaching modern Chinese literature at his alma mater. A strong advocate for children’s literature and a winner of several literary awards, including the Song Qingling Literature Prize and Bing Xin Literature Prize, Cao has published numerous stories and novels about Chinese adolescents. He writes in a lyrical style that appeals aesthetically to traditional sensibilities and his works portray everyday characters who experience life in its many facets and learn lessons about love, sacrifice, hard work, dignity, and judgment.
Shanyang bu chi tiantang cao (Goats Do Not Eat the Grass in Heaven) portrays the hard life of a boy as he follows adult migrant workers into the city; Cao fangzi (A Thatched House) examines the six years of elementary school life from the perspective of a little boy as he struggles to understand the world of the adults; Hong wa (Red Tiles), which won the National Book Award and Beijing Literature and Arts Award, portrays the simple and pure life of the countryside described in the words of a middle school student; Xi mi (Fine Rice), also set in rural China during the Cultural Revolution, tells how a country boy falls in love with a schoolteacher. Most representative of Cao’s aesthetics is Tian piao (A Downpour), a novel about a love triangle between two men and one woman. In this book, Cao describes more than a dozen forms of rain in a style that accentuates his traditional sensibility. While situating a story of desire and human nature in the midst of the Cultural Revolution, Cao minimizes the historical background, skirting around the social destruction and political turmoil, and chooses to focus on a love story in which personal ambition pales next to romantic sentiments and even death is turned into an artistic experience.