HUANG BIYUN, A.K.A. WONG BIK WAN (1961— ) - The Dictionary

Chinese Literature - Li-hua Ying 2010

The Dictionary

HUANG BIYUN, A.K.A. WONG BIK WAN (1961— ). Fiction and prose writer. Born and raised in Hong Kong, Huang Biyun graduated from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and later studied French in Paris and criminology at Hong Kong University. She has worked as a journalist, an editor, and a freelance writer. A writer of talent and depth, Huang has won numerous literary awards in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Her narrative art is characteristically intricate, often written with multiple voices and several references of time and space to reflect multiple views and possibilities.

Huang depicts the world and life in general from a fundamentally pessimistic angle. She is widely regarded as a writer fond of telling tragic tales of the unseemly and the morbid aspects of modern urban society and human desire. For her portrayals of the depravity of the human condition and the brutal forces in the world and within the human psyche, critics find in her works a unique “aesthetics of violence.” Her protagonists, mostly women, are all alone, disconnected from others and isolated from the outside world. Lost souls struggling with the world and within themselves, they are burdened and depressed by the wickedness of the world and haunted by the dark secrets they carry inside themselves. Many of her stories published in the mid-1990s and collected in Qihou (Afterwards), including “Qi jiemie” (Seven Sisters) and Wenrou yu baolie (Tenderness and Violence), are set in foreign lands and focus on the characters’ sense of homelessness and spiritual vagrancy. The feeling of uncertainty associated with being on the road away from home reflects the condition of human existence according to the author. Another story, “Shi cheng” (Losing the City), portrays the fear felt by Hong Kong residents as 1997 looms near. As anxiety escalates to desperation, the city falls into the abyss of rampant criminality, with human behavior at its worst, but life has to go on. As in her other works, a sense of helplessness and resignation runs throughout “Shi cheng.” For a more philosophical treatment of human behavior, one could turn to Qi zong zui (Seven Counts of Crime), which examines the Christian concept of the original sin.

Huang’s more recent works show an obvious move toward a more pronounced feminist position. Lienü tu (Portraits of Impetuous Women) portrays three generations of Hong Kong women as they each experience the major changes in modern Hong Kong history, including the Japanese occupation from 1941 to 1945, the violent and rebellious 1960s, and the handover of 1997. Other novels that treat issues specifically concerning women include Shi er nüse (Twelve Forms of Female Seduction), Wu ai ji (Without Love), and Xue Kamen (Bloody Carmen).