Xu Kun


Xu Kun
b. 1965, Shenyang, Dongbei
Writer, literary critic
Representative of the post-Cultural Revolution generation, Xu Kun has attracted great attention since her emergence in the early 1990s. Her stories embody vividly the mood of Chinese society at this time, especially the rise of popular culture and the decline of elitism. In characteristically witty, playful and sarcastic language, Xu subverts the conventional image of Chinese intellectuals, particularly males, as in The Vernacular Language’ (Baihua) and ‘The Avant-Garde’ (Xianfeng). The former mocks the hypocrisy and psychological dislocation of a group of Chinese intellectuals during a short stay in the countryside, while the latter satirizes the predicament and degradation of Chinese artists in an increasingly commercialized society.
Xu is skilful in using a male narrator to subvert male characters.
Xu’s second major theme is her sensitive but darkly humorous and sardonic delineation of the misunderstandings and disappointments in contemporary relations between the sexes. This theme is particularly evident in her stories ‘Misty Dreams’ (Ruyan rumeng), ‘Kitchen’ (Chufang) and ‘Encountering Love’ (Zaoyu aiqing). The first depicts the sexual adventure of an unhappily married career woman; the second mocks the romantic illusions of a female art agent; and the third shows the mutual manipulation of the sexes in the pursuit of profit. Xu is a researcher at the Modern Chinese Literature Division of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing. Her scholarly book, Night Boat Journey (Yexingchuan, 1999), is a provocative study of works by contemporary Chinese women writers.
Huot, Claire (2000). ‘Literary Experiments: Six Files, “Xu Kun’s Theme Parks”’. In idem, China’s New Cultural Scene. Durham: Duke University Press, 41–8.
LEUNG LAIFONG

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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