Books by David Der-Wei Wang

Released: June 9, 1994

A fascinating glimpse into the vibrant fiction currently being produced in Chinese. Wang, who wrote an interpretive essay for the collection (``Chinese Fiction for the Nineties''), and Tai, who translated several of the pieces, provide a cross-section of short stories by emerging writers from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the People's Republic of China. The importance of family and of ancestors is seen in many selections. ``Divine Debauchery'' by Mo Yan (Red Sorghum) humorously depicts the peculiar habits and decadence of the aristocratic Master Jifan during the Chinese Republic (1911-1949) through the device of a child relating tales of his grandfather's service to Jifan, stories originally told to him by his uncle. In A Cheng's ``Festival,'' the children of a single small village witness the disruption caused by the Cultural Revolution. Another recurrent theme is loss. Yang Lian (who fled China just before the Tian'anmen uprising) poignantly limns the somnambulistic existence of those exiled from their homeland in ``Ghost Talk.'' The title story by Su Tong portrays a boy's fear of death and of the impending loss of his grandmother. Yang Zhao raises laments for a youth lost forever in ``Our Childhood.'' Some stories defy categorization. Ye Si's ethereal ``Transcendence and the Fax Machine'' tells of the narrator's almost erotic attachment to the electronic device of the title. ``I Am Not a Cat'' by Tang Min deals with attitudes toward abortion and the value of women in a tradition-bound society. The translators give supple renderings of the texts, and the editors have made good selections. Yet entering into the stories is not always easy; they reflect a worldview and sensibility far removed from that of most Western readers. Read full book review >