XIAO HONG, A.K.A. HSIAO HUNG (1911—1942) - The Dictionary

Chinese Literature - Li-hua Ying 2010

XIAO HONG, A.K.A. HSIAO HUNG (1911—1942)
The Dictionary

XIAO HONG, A.K.A. HSIAO HUNG (1911—1942). Born in a small town in northeastern China, Xiao Hong had a lonely childhood, which she later recorded in her autobiographical novel Hulan he (Tales of Hulan River). Encouraged by Xiao Jun, a young writer who rescued her after her boyfriend abandoned her in a hotel, she began to write. Xiao Hong fell in love with Xiao Jun and the couple jointly published a collection of short stories. Unhappy with life in Harbin, which was then under Japanese occupation, the couple left the city in 1934 and began a vagrant life. The seaside city of Qingdao provided them with a welcome respite and there Xiao finished another short novel, Shengsi chang (The Field of Life and Death), portraying the lives of peasants and their resistance against the Japanese occupation in northeastern China. The couple also began corresponding with Lu Xun, seeking his advice on writing. They later went to Shanghai and became active in the Left-wing Association of Chinese Writers. When Japan invaded Shanghai, Xiao Hong fled to several cities and eventually landed in Hong Kong. By then, she had broken up with Xiao Jun and was living with Duanmu Hongliang, another writer from the northeast. Despite her professional success, Xiao Hong was plagued all her life by loneliness, insecurity, and poor health, which eventually killed her.

In her brief life, Xiao Hong wrote fiction and essays as well as a small number of poems and plays. Hulan he zhuan and Shengsi chang are her best-known works. Other works include Shangshi jie (The Market Street), a memoir of her life in Harbin, and Ma Bole (Ma Bole), a caricature of a spineless, contemptible man in the Japanese-occupied northeast. Both her fiction and her essays have a lyrical quality to them; graceful and polished, they represent a sensibility of innocence and simplicity. See also SINO-JAPANESE WAR.