HAI XIN, PEN NAME OF ZHENG XINXIONG (1930— ) - The Dictionary

Chinese Literature - Li-hua Ying 2010

The Dictionary

HAI XIN, PEN NAME OF ZHENG XINXIONG (1930— ). A Guangdong native, Hai Xin came to Hong Kong in his youth and overcame many obstacles before succeeding in teaching himself to write. He primarily writes fiction about life in the lower social and economic echelons. His novels and short stories are realistic depictions of Hong Kong residents and their daily survival, providing important material for the study of Hong Kong society, in the same milieu and style of Lü Lun and Shu Xiangcheng. A prolific writer, Hai Xin has more than 20 titles to his name, including collections of short stories, novellas, and many full-length novels. His best-known work is Tangxi sandai ming hua (Three Generations of Famous Courtesans in Tangxi), which traces the changes taking place in the once well-known red-light district of Tangxi. Through the individual stories of three generations of courtesans and prostitutes, the author re-creates the history of Hong Kong. The influential Hao men han men kong men (The Gates of Wealth, Poverty, and Emptiness) is a novel about moral conventions. The heroine is a wealthy jeweler’s daughter who spends 17 years in a nunnery. She chooses the monastic life as a means to escape from a messy romantic relationship with a hairdresser, the son of a servant for her family. As she passes through the three “gates,” metaphors for three different social circles, she encounters not only different lifestyles but also different philosophies of life. Using her voice to represent the authorial perspective, Hai Xin passes moral judgment on the values that permeate the Hong Kong society.