Su Tong


Su Tong
b. 1963, Suzhou
Writer
Educated in the Chinese Department of Beijing Normal University, Su Tong began publishing short stories before his graduation in 1984, after which he was assigned to Nanjing, where he eventually became editor-in-chief of the literary magazine Zhongshan. His novella On the Run in 1934 (1934 nian taowang, 1987) attracted critical attention as an avant-garde rewriting of history. A succeeding novella, Wives and Concubines (Qiqie chengchun, 1990), also set in the early twentieth century, contained depictions of sexuality and irrationality that attracted popular attention and was adapted into the film Raise the Red Lantern (Dahong denglong gaogao gua, 1991), directed by Zhang Yimou. Su Tong’s rising reputation for depicting historical situations saturated with illicit sexuality, bold female characters and unrelieved depravity was confirmed in his first novel Rice (Mi, 1990), about the rise and fall of a Yangtze River gangster, and in ‘Hongfen’, the story of two Shanghai prostitutes and their lover at the time of Liberation in 1949–50 which was twice adapted into film: by Li Shaohong as Blush (Hongfen, 1994) and by Huang Shuqin as Rouged Beauties (Hongfen jiaren, 1995). Critics have been taken with Su’s stories of south China as a locus of decadence, centred on his mythical Mapel Village (Fenzgyangshucun). Su also wrote several novels during the 1990s, among them North of the City (Chengbei didai, 1994) and Empress Wu Zetian (Wu Zetian, 1994), which continued to develop his fascination with historical topics.
Knight, Deirdre Sabina (1998). ‘Decadence, Revolution and Self-Determination in Su Tong’s Fiction’. Modern Chinese Literature 10.1/2:91–122.
Su, Tong (1996).
Raise the Red Lantern: Three Novellas. Trans. Michael S.Duke. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
——(1996). Rice. Trans. Howard Goldblatt. Harmondsworth: Penguin (rep. edn).
Xu, Jian (2000). ‘Blush from Novella to Film: The Possibility of Critical Art in Commodity Culture’. Modern Chinese Literature and Culture 12.1 (Spring) : 115–63.
EDWARD GUNN

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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