Chinese Literature - Li-hua Ying 2010
XU KUN (1965— )
XU KUN (1965— ). Fiction writer. Born in the city of Shenyang in the northeastern province of Liaoning, Xu began writing fiction in 1993, while pursuing an academic career in literary studies. She belongs to the so-called post-1960s generation that ascended to the literary stage in the 1990s. Her writing is often characterized as postmodern whose trademark is satire. Xu’s protagonists are often intellectuals who have lost the center of gravity in their dealings with an unfamiliar cultural environment charged with energy and materialistic desires, a confusing and absurd world that causes her characters a great deal of anxiety. It is in the clashes of values that the “comic” effects of Xu’s stories are achieved. In her stories, idealism surrenders to materialism and high-minded culture gives in to life’s banalities. The intellectual wrestles with the contradictions within society as well as within the self. Xu’s works contain no tragedy or heroism; instead, there is an abundant amount of mockery and cynicism. A winner of the Lu Xun Literature Prize in 2001, Xu writes almost exclusively about contemporary urban existence. Most of her writings are short stories. Some of the best-known titles include “Xianfeng” (The Avant-garde), “Zaoyu aiqing” (Encountering Love), and “Yi yu” (Sleep Talk). She has written a novel, Niiwa (The Goddess Nüwa), which portrays the life of a woman from 1930, when she was brought at the age of 10 as a child bride into her husband’s family, to 1990, when she reigns over a clan of four generations under the same roof. As a family saga, the novel is often seen as the author’s attempt to establish a feminist cultural nationalism in opposition to the predominant patrilineal and patriarchal discourse.