HAN HAN (1982— )
HAN HAN (1982— ). Novelist. A popular writer, Han Han has many fans among young readers in China. In 1999, when he was about to publish his first novel, San chong men (Three Doors), which portrays a small-town school that focuses exclusively on science subjects at the expense of humanities courses, leaving in despair science-challenged students, the author, like his protagonist, was a high school student who was failing his classes. Han subsequently dropped out of school to become a professional writer. Nearly all his stories and novels deal with contemporary youth culture in urban centers, particularly the dreams and troubles of high school and college students. In many ways, Han represents the generation born in the 1980s, a demographic that grew up in the economic boom era in a global consumer society fundamentally different from that of their parents’ generation. Another novel, Xiang shaonian la feichi (Flying like Wind), depicts the growing pains of a high school dropout who becomes a member of an underground company that does business in book pirating; Yi zuo chengchi (A City), a novel considered by the author to be his best work so far, focuses on a group of rebellious students who lead a seemingly carefree life, running after girls, cars, and performance art. In the view of many critics, Han represents a modern, “fast-food” culture without substance and his antitradition posture belies a willing submission and subscription to consumerism and mass culture. That his books are phenomenal market successes only enhances that image. However, Han’s novels, characterized by loose plots and sharp and satirical language, could be read as a serious indictment of the Chinese education system for stifling students’ creativity and individuality. In a society that values book learning and encourages conformity, Han is also considered a negative example to teenagers who want to quit school to become their own free agents.