Sun Ganlu


Sun Ganlu
b. 1957, Shanghai
Writer
Sun Ganlu first drew critical attention with his short story, ‘A Visit to Dreamworld’ (Fangwen mengjing, 1986). A key representative of avant-garde/experimental literature (xianfeng xiaoshuo), Sun’s mid 1980s experimentation pushed the limits of fiction, which he wrote as a series of poetic lines unconnected by narrative progression. In his poemstory, The Postman’s Letters (Xinshi zhi han, 1987), inspired by his job as a postman, Suin observed the faith people invest in an interlocutor. Over fifty lines start with ‘A letter is…’ (xin shi…), a play on the multiple meanings of the word xin, which also means ‘belief’ or ‘trust’. Sun Ganlu wrote his first novel, Breathing (Huxi), during his second creative stage from 1989 to 1991. The depressing aftermath of the Tiananmen crackdown informs the narrative, which takes place in Shanghai in the early 1990s. History, memory and gender are prominent themes, and the events are described enigmatically by lush metaphors and random associations. The modus operandi is not action but progression towards philosophical and psychological resolution of the protagonist’s identity.
Sun’s works since the mid 1990s invoke Shanghai’s clan history and cultural heritage. Sun depicts Shanghai allegorically as the traditional city gives way to the pressures of global capitalism.
His recent novel, This Place is That Place (Cidi shi taxiang, 2002), is a provocative retrospective on how Shanghai’s twentieth-century vicissitudes inform its contemporary ethos.
Sun, Ganlu (1997). Respirer: Roman. Trans. Nadine Perront. Arles: Philippe Picquier.
——(1998). ‘I Am a Young Drunkard’. Trans. Kristina Torgeson. In Wang Jing (ed.), China’s Avant-Garde Fiction. Durham: Duke University Press, 235–45.
Visser, Robin (2000). ‘The Urban Subject in the Literary Imagination of Twentieth Century China’. PhD diss., Columbia University, 215–31. [Analysis of Huxi.]
ROBIN VISSER

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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