XIAO FAN, PEN NAME OF FAN JIZU (1982— ) - The Dictionary

Chinese Literature - Li-hua Ying 2010

The Dictionary

XIAO FAN, PEN NAME OF FAN JIZU (1982— ). Fiction writer. Born and raised in Shanghai, Xiao Fan majored in philosophy at East China Normal University. Like many of his generation, in his early career, Xiao Fan admired Wang Xiaobo and imitated his unrestrained style and rebellious spirit. Later, he fell in love with the avant-garde aesthetics of Yu Hua, Su Tong, and Can Xue. These influences are most evident in Bu ji de tiankong (The Unbridled Sky), a collection of short stories. Like Su De and others, Xiao Fan’s career was launched in Mengya (Sprouts), a teen literary journal based in Shanghai, which published his story “Wo xiao shihou” (When I Was Little) when the author was 17 years old.

His first novel, Wo de tutou laoshi (My Bald Teacher), which tells an intricately woven postmodern tale about homosexual love, was published in his junior year in college. Wo nianqing shi de nü pengyou (The Girlfriend of My Youth) tells a suspenseful story of romantic love among two men and a woman. His second collection of stories, Du yao shen tong (Poison and Child Prodigy) came out in 2004 soon after he graduated from college. The title story portrays a precocious child who experiments with poison making to take his own life so that he could be together with his dead father. Characteristic of Xiao Fan’s style, this sad tale is told in a playful, humorous tone. His most recent novel, Mayi (Ants) is about illusive love, violence, and cruelty in the experience of four teenagers whose lives are intertwined because of the history of their parents’ complicated sexual relationships.

Focused on exploring the meaning of life and human nature, Xiao Fan shows equal fascination with the magic of storytelling by dazzling his readers with lively characters and intriguing plots. He favors the use of humor and hyperbole to deflect the seriousness of his subject and to create a unique world of young characters whose actions are driven by both innocent and sinister forces. The most prolific among his generation, Xiao Fan has published in some of the most prestigious literary journals, including Shouhuo (Harvest) and Shiyue (October), and with three novels to his name he is well positioned to attract readers beyond the circle of teenagers who admire his talent. See also NEW GENERATION WRITERS.