Course:ASIA351/2022/Wang Anyi

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Wang Anyi
Wang Anyi
Born March 6, 1954
Occupation Writer
Period 1975 - Present
Genre Fiction, Prose

Wang Anyi, born on March 6, 1954 in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province. She is one of the most prominent and prolific writers and literary scholars in the post-Mao era. Her writing styles vary widely from one to another and cover a wide range of topics and themes.[1]

In 2000, Wang Anyi won the Fifth Mao Dun Literature Prize for The Song of Everlasting Sorrow. [1]

Wang Anyi lives in Shanghai. She has been a Chinese literature professor at Fudan University since 2004 and has served as vice-chair of the China Writers Association since 2006.[1]


Wang Anyi was born on March 6, 1954 in Nanjing her ancestral home in Tong'an, Fujian Province[2].

She was born the daughter of Wang Xiaoping (1919-2003), a writer and stage director, and Ru Zhijuan (1925-1998), a novelist with a breakthrough 1958 work, Lilies[3].

She moved with her mother to Shanghai in 1955, where she attended school until 1969[2]. In 1969, she was sent to the Huabei Wuhe County[3] Anhui Province to live and work with peasants, "to get re-educated by the poor and lower-middle peasant"[2]. Her parents were both "rightists" writers, which resulted in her being sent to work at the rural Toupu Commune[3] during the Cultural Revolution[4]. She was traumatized by the rustic experience saying "[w]hen I left, I left with the feelings of escaping from hell"[5]. During her lonely years in the countryside "reading books and writing in [her] diary became even more precious to [her]"[6].

In 1972, she became an activist in the study of Chairman Mao's thoughts, joining the Communist Youth League[3]. She escaped the commune by learning to play the cello, and was accepted in the Xuzhou Song and Dance Troupe[4] in 1973[3]. During this period, she met her future husband, Li Zhang, who worked as the troupe director[3]. This troupe allowed her to travel to different provinces such as the Anhui, Shanxi and Henan provinces, playing "revolutionary model operas"[3].

Literary career

During the mid-1970s, Wang Anyi began publishing her works[4]. In 1975, she debuted as a writer with the essay "Marble"[2].

In 1978, she returned to the China Welfare Society[2] in Shanghai to edit the magazine Children's Era[7]. Her novel, won the annual Best Literary Work award of the magazine Childhood and the National Second Prize for Children's Literature[3].

In 1980 she attended the literature workshop of the Writers' Association of China at the Xun Literary Institute[3].

In 1982, her short story The Destination won 4th in The National Short Story Prize, and in 1983 her novella Lapse of Time won 2nd in The National Novella Prize[4].

In 1983 she was part of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa[7].

In 1987, her novella Baotown won The 4th National Novella Prize[4].

In 2000, she was awarded 5th in The Mao Dun Literature Prize for her work The Song of Everlasting Sorrow[4].

On December 6, 2001, she was elected the seventh chairperson of the Shanghai Writers' Association[8].

In 2011, she received a nomination of her novel Baotown for the Los Angeles Times' book of the year, and for the Man Booker International Prize[7].

In 2012, her work Scent of Heaven was awarded 4th in The Dream of the Red Chamber Award[4].

In 2017, one of her works received the Newman Prize for Chinese Literature[3].

She is currently a professor of Chinese literature and creative writing at Fudan University[7].

While not writing, Wang Anyi spends time reading and contemplating[9].

"While we stick to our own experience and conclusion, we should understand sincerely and observe other people's views on life, and enjoy the infinite spiritual landscape in people. When we read books with the trust we have in ourselves, the books will integrate with us, meaning we will in fact reading about ourselves as well," says Wang[9].

Representative works

Representative work: The Song of Everlasting Sorrow

Critical analysis:  

The concept of destiny: It is the comprehension of the flashy life. The name "Miss Shanghai" is actually an invisible shackle in Wang Qiyao's life. With "Miss Shanghai", she first associates with Director Li involuntarily and with secret joy, and later with Kang Mingxun and "Old Clara" The love affair with others all started because of this, but in the end they died in the name of "Miss Shanghai". Nothing can escape the fate of "Splendid Jiongchen"

The concept of female tragedy: It reveals the tragic fate of women. "Miss Shanghai" Wang Qiyao is undoubtedly beautiful, but beauty did not bring her a happy life. The strong or plain love between her and several men in the novel left deep scars on her heart. For Wang Qiyao, "The present happiness is actually mortgaged by the future, and the future has to be paid for by the past. Life is really a series of chains, and it is not easy to obtain a single link."

Writing characteristic: In "Song of Everlasting Sorrow", Wang Anyi does not pay attention to the order of time, but uses space to reflect time, and uses space narrative techniques to arrange the development of the novel's plot. In the novel, Wang Qiyao describes Wang Qiyao's ill-fated fate by depicting the transformation of several living spaces: the alley—boudoir—studio—Alice's apartment—Wuqiao—Ping'an Lane. Wang Anyi uses unique prose style of writing and parallelism to describe the ordinary or trivial things in the novel, endowing them with poetic and spirituality. It is this detailed language description that paves the way for the development of the plot of the characters in the novel. Every space scene heralds the outcome of the story development.

Representative work: Lapse of Time

Critical analysis:

Primary concept: As a writer with a strong sense of femininity, Wang Anyi tries to portray women from the perspective of truth, kindness and beauty. Even those extremely humble little people have beautiful humanity in them. Because they don't want to show their faces and have nothing to do with the world, they are almost forgotten by people. Wang Anyi writes about them with understanding and sympathy, and writes about the ordinary lives of these ordinary women, so that these traditional ordinary women can be presented to people again. The author also reminds us that as a group of women under the candle of traditional consciousness, we need to go Pay attention to their living conditions and emotional needs.

Writing characteristic: The compact structure, fine description, and humanized and plain language are the major artistic features of this article. The author condenses the events of more than ten years together, although the length is short but not vague. It shows the author's superhuman literary skills. The language description in the workshop gives people a kind feeling, and after reading it, it seems that there is still more to say.

The use of contrastive description is also a major feature of this article. With money or without money, with servants or without servants, with cosmetics and oil-free rice... In the past, Ouyang Duanli's life was like eating a butternut plum tree, holding it in her mouth, and biting it lightly Son, hold it for half a day, savor it carefully, every minute has a lot of taste and a lot of happiness. But now, her life is like eating a bowl of cold brewed rice. She swallows it in big mouthfuls, not to savor it, just to not be hungry, just to pass this meal, to let this day, this month, this day Years, and even this whole life have been passed away...


Wang Anyi is a well-known author in the 1980s as one of the authors in xúngēn movement (寻根文学). Her works have been translated into various languages.She has also won the Mao Dun Literature Prize in 2000 with her work “The Song of Everlasting Sorrow”. This work was later developed for stage, television, and screen.[10] Not long after winning the award, she was elected to be the chairwoman of Shanghai Writers’ Association.[11]Through multiple works by Wang Anyi they have influenced the community to bring concern and care for traditional culture in urban and rural areas. As well as bring attention to the ordinary lives of people living in China.

Wang Anyi “has also published essays, journalism, travel writings, literary criticism, and memoirs”[11]. Moreover she has participated in multiple works as a scriptwriter.


Film:”Everlasting Regret” (2005) Directed by Stanley Kwan, based on “The Song of Everlasting Sorrow”

Film: “To Live to Love” (2006). Directed by Ding Hei, based on “The Song of Everlasting Sorrow”

Further reading

Di, Bai; Lin, Huang (2013). "Wang Anyi". In Moran, Thomas; Xu, (Dianna) Ye (eds.). Chinese Fiction Writers, 1950-2000. Detroit, MI: Gale, a Cengage Company. ISBN 978-0-7876-9645-0.

"王安忆:扎根时代的文学之旅_半月谈网". Retrieved 2021-12-07.

Leung, Laifong (1994). "Wang Anyi: Restless Explorer". Morning Sun: Interviews with Chinese Writers of the Lost Generation. M.E. Sharpe. pp. 177–87. ISBN 978-1-56324-093-5.

Wang, Lingzhen (2003). "Wang Anyi". In Mostow, Joshua S. (ed.). The Columbia Companion to Modern East Asian

"《考工记》与王安忆叙事风格的延续和转变--理论评论--中国作家网". Retrieved 2021-12-07.

"王安忆:文学能使人生变得有趣_中国作家网". Retrieved 2021-12-07.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Moran, Thomas (2013). Chinese fiction writers, 1950-2000. Gale Cengage Learning. ISBN 0-7876-9645-5, 978-0-7876-9645-0 Check |isbn= value: invalid character (help).
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 "Wang Anyi". Retrieved 11/16/2022. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 3.9 "Wang Anyi". Books and Writers. Retrieved 11/16/2022. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 "Wang Anyi". Harvard University. Retrieved 11/15/2022. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  5. Leung, Laifong (1994). "Wang Anyi: Restless Explorer". Morning Sun: Interviews with Chinese Writers of the Lost Generation.
  6. Chinese Writers on Writing. Trinity University Press. 2010. ISBN 978-1-59534-063-4.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 "Wang Anyi". New Directions. Retrieved 11/16/2022. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  8. "Wang Anyi - a female writer of constant innovations".
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Wang Anyi - a Female Writer of Constant Innovations".
  10. "ndbooks".
  11. 11.0 11.1 "Wang Anyi".

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