GE FEI, PEN NAME OF LIU YONG (1964— ) - The Dictionary

Chinese Literature - Li-hua Ying 2010

The Dictionary

GE FEI, PEN NAME OF LIU YONG (1964— ). Fiction writer. Native of Jiangsu Province with a Ph.D. from East China Normal University, Ge Fei built his reputation as an avant-garde writer with intellectual prowess. He came into fame in the 1980s with his experimental stories, particularly Mi zhou (The Enigmatic Boat) and Hese Niaoqun (Flock of Brown Birds), which are regarded as representative texts of the Chinese avant-garde movement. He developed a style characterized by its circular movement and its tendency for abstraction, inspired in part by the works of Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges. He also deliberately leaves out key elements in the plot, complicating the meaning of the text. In terms of language, Ge Fei retains much of the Chinese classical heritage with its stress on lyricism and refinement.

Ge Fei’s novels written after 1990 are more accessible but still bear the traces of his early experimental fiction. In Diren (The Enemy), a mystery novel in which the main character tries to find out who set the fire that destroyed his family’s business many years ago, the perpetrator is never identified but the characters mysteriously die one after the other. Yuwang de qizhi (The Flag of Desire), a philosophical rumination, deals with man’s vulnerability, alienation, fear, and loneliness. Ge Fei’s latest novel, Renmian taohua (A Beautiful Face Like a Peach Blossom), drops the philosophical propensity of his previous works to tell the story of a young woman and her romantic relationship with a revolutionary at the beginning of the 20th century, the last years of the turbulent reign of Emperor Guangxu (1871—1908). In this love story intertwined with history, Ge Fei crafts a utopian tale laced with exquisite sensuality and poetic sentiments.

Ge Fei’s scholarly works include Xiaoshuo yishu mianmian guan (Various Facets of the Art of Fiction) and Xiaoshuo xushi yanjiu (Studies of Narrative Techniques in Fiction). He has been teaching literature at Qinghua University in Beijing since 2000.