Wang Shuo


Wang Shuo
b. 1958, Nanjing/Beijing
Writer
After service in the navy, Wang Shuo began by contributing short fiction to periodicals in 1978, but found his distinctive voice when he adopted the fashionable idioms and local language of Beijing to create characters caught in illicit or absurd situations during the late 1980s, when the economic reforms had taken hold. Several novellas were rapidly adapted as films. Most successful as both fiction and film was The Troubleshooters (Wanzhu, 1987), in which young people venturing into the market economy offer personal services to relieve people of their ennui and sense of responsibility. A depiction of the black market, Rising Out of the Sea (Fouchu haimian), was adapted under the title Transmigration (Lunhui, 1988). In the novella Half Flame, Half Brine (Yiban shi huoyan, yiban shi haishui) and its film version (1989), a girl is driven to suicide after she plays the part of a prostitute in a blackmailing scheme. By 1994 a half-dozen or more of Wang’s stories had resulted in films, a trend that peaked with the adaptation of his Fierce as Animals (Dongwu xiongmeng) as In the Heat of the Sun. Wang’s grimmest fictional treatments of contemporary society may be found in the complex exploration of subjectivity within the murder mystery Playing for Thrills (Wande jiushi xin tiao, 1989) and in the fantasy of a cynical company determined to create a national idol in Please Don’t Call Me Human (Qianwan bie bei wo dang ren, 1989). In the early 1990s Wang played a role in conceiving, and/or writing for, successful television productions, among them the sentimental story of an adoptive mother, Yearnings, Aspirations (Kewang, 1990), the comedy Stories from an Editorial Office (Bianjibu de gushi, 1991) and the love story No Question, I Love You (Ai ni mei shangliang, 1992). His creativity and controversial popularity faded after the rise of an affirmative new nationalism.
See also: dakou culture
Barmé, Geremie (1999). ‘The Apotheosis of the Liumang [Hooligans]’. In idem, In The Red: On Contemporary Chinese Culture. New York: Columbia University Press, 62–98.
Braester, Yomi (2003). ‘Memory at a Standstill: From Maohistory to Hooligan History’. In idem, Witness Against History: Literature, Film, and Public Discourse in Twentieth-Century China. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 192–205.
Noble, Jonathan (2003).
‘Wang Shuo and the Commercialization of Literature’. In Joshua Mostow (ed.) and Kirk Denton (ed. China section), Columbia Companion to Modern East Asian Literatures. New York: Columbia University Press, 598–603.
Rosen, Stanley (ed.) (1998). “The Trouble-shooters” by Wang Shuo’. Chinese Education and Society 31.1 (January-February). [filmscript]
Wang, Jing (1996). ‘Wang Shuo: “Pop Goes the Culture?”’. In idem, High Culture Fever: Politics, Aesthetics, and Ideology in Deng’s China. Berkeley: University of California Press, 261–86.
Wang Shuo (1998). Playing for Thrills. Trans. Howard Goldblatt. New York: William Morrow.
——(2000). Please Don’t Call Me Human. Trans. Howard Goldblatt. New York: Hyperion East.
EDWARD GUNN

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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