ZHOU MEISEN (1956— ) - The Dictionary

Chinese Literature - Li-hua Ying 2010

ZHOU MEISEN (1956— )
The Dictionary

ZHOU MEISEN (1956— ). Novelist and screenplay writer. Known for his “anti-corruption” or political novels, Zhou Meisen has written a number of works exposing the crimes committed when political power and money join forces, calling attention to the increasing economic gulf between the rich and the poor. For his realistic portrayal of China’s corrupt bureaucracies, Zhou has become a target of attacks by some party officials, but since he has been careful to limit his criticism to officials at or below the provincial level, he has managed to squeeze through the severe scrutiny of governmental censorship. An ironic twist of his popularity is that one of his novels has won an award from the Communist Party’s highest information control apparatus: the Ministry of Propaganda, both as a token of free expression and more likely an indication that corruption has caused concerns among the central leadership.

Renjian zhengdao (The Right Path in the World), his first political novel, exposes the abuse of power in a province, while exploring the consequences of the market economy set in motion by Deng Xiaoping’s reform policy. The success of Renjian zhengdao prompted Zhou to write Tianxia caifu (The Wealth of the World), focusing on the workings of the stock market and the people who profit from manipulating it, and Zhongguo zhizao (Made in China), reflecting the conflict between true reformers and corrupt officials. Juedui quanli (Absolute Power) centers on a city’s party secretary, who has worked tirelessly to turn the city into an economic success and at the same time has allowed rampant corruption to go unchecked under his watch. Zhou’s novels give the reader an excellent entry into the intricate web of Chinese bureaucracy with its political intrigues and conspiracies. Several of Zhou’s novels have been turned into runaway hits on television that in turn fuel the sale of his books. The popularity of Zhou’s works results from both the subject matter and the easy accessibility of his style.

Other than the political novels that have brought him fame, Zhou has written many historical novels, including Zhong e (Heavy Yoke), about the Chinese Trotskyists and other early revolutionaries in the early 1900s, and Lunxian de tudi (Land Fallen to the Enemy), on the Chinese people’s struggle against Japanese aggression. There are also stories inspired by his own experience working in the coal mines of Xuzhou, Jiangsu Province, where he was born, including Hei fen (The Black Tomb) and Yuan yu (The Original Prison), both about the coal mining industry in the early 20th century. Before becoming a writer of best sellers, Zhou was an editor, businessman, and government official.