ZHU TIANXIN, A.K.A. CHU T’IEN-HSIN (1959— ) - The Dictionary

Chinese Literature - Li-hua Ying 2010

The Dictionary

ZHU TIANXIN, A.K.A. CHU T’IEN-HSIN (1959— ). Fiction writer. Born into a literary family in Taiwan, Zhu Tianxin is one of the three daughters of Zhu Xining, a well-known writer. Like her sister Zhu Tianwen, Zhu also published her first book at the age of 16 while still a high school student. She has since written several books and won a number of literary awards. Zhu studied history at National Taiwan University. A leading fiction writer in Taiwan, Zhu is also a literary editor.

Her autobiographical work, Ji rang ge: Bei yi nü sannian ji (Times of Peace and Comfort: Three Years at the Taipei Number One Middle School for Girls), remains a popular book among schoolgirls in Taiwan. Short stories in Fangzhou shang de rizi (Days on Board the Ark) and Zuori dang wo nianqing shi (Yesterday When I Was Young) and a novel Weiliao (Unfinished) are also about teenagers’ friendships, tears, and laughter. In Gu du (The Ancient Capital), a collection of short stories, Zhu turns her attention to the displaced urban population living on the fringes of society, treating issues such as cultural and national identity. Through nostalgia, her characters attempt to construct their sense of self in relation to history, memory, and place. Many of her stories portray second- or third-generation mainlanders, particularly those who grew up in the juancun (military dependents’ villages). These characters are forced to confront an identity crisis, having to reconcile two notions of home and nation: one defined by their own memories of childhood growing up in Taiwan and the other drilled into their heads by the older generation’s nostalgic reminiscences of the lost mainland. See also HU LANCHENG; ZHANG AILING.