ZHENG YI (1947— )
ZHENG YI (1947— ). Fiction and prose writer. Before his involvement in the 1989 Tian’anmen Prodemocracy Movement forced him into exile to the United States, Zheng Yi had been known as the author of “Feng” (Maple), a story about the Cultural Revolution, and Lao jing (Old Well), a novella about a village in northern China and its persistant effort to drill for water. Lao jing was later adapted into a movie that won awards at several international film festivals. Since coming to the United States in 1993, Zheng, now an outspoken critic of the Chinese government, has turned to nonfiction writing. Hongse jinianbei (Scarlet Memorial: Tales of Cannibalism in Modern China) uncovers the dark secrets of cannibalism in Guangxi Province as a result of politically motivated policies in Guangxi during the Cultural Revolution. Zhongguo zhi huimie: Zhongguo shengtai bengkui jinji baogao (China in Ruins: The Ecological Breakdown) describes the serious damages that industrialization and modernization, particularly mismanagement, have inflicted on China’s environment. One novel, Shen shu (Magic Tree), recounts the tumultuous state of the Chinese countryside since World War II up to the present.
In the beginning of his career, Zheng was a reputed writer of scar literature, and at present he is thought to be a dissident writer known for his sharp criticisms of the Communist government. The four years he spent in a village in Shanxi as an educated youth and his later life in exile are two critical sources of influence on his thinking and writing.