Chinese Avant-garde Fiction: Quest for Historicity and Transcendent Truth

by Zhansui Yu


"The experimental literary production of the People’s Republic of China during the 1980s, which was freed from many of the aesthetic strictures of the Mao era, deserves more scholarly attention. Zhansui Yu’s monograph aims to help fill this gap by focusing on the avant-garde fiction of Su Tong, Yu Hua and Ge Fei. ... This is one of few monographs on Chinese literature that features a sustained engagement with the thought of Martin Heidegger ... He convincingly makes the case that the common themes between these writers warrant a collective analysis for them. Yu’s painstakingly thorough reading and research will reward those seeking a broad introduction to the wide oeuvre of these three writers. As such, the chapters serve as a suitable catalyst for debate and discussion in university classes that cover these authors, as many of their works have been translated. For Chinese scholars curious about the thought of Heidegger, this book provides a handy and useful introduction." —China Quarterly

"This thoughtful book offers fresh insights into avant-garde fiction in the early decades of China’s reform. Engaging Chinese and Western traditions, Yu Zhansui argues forcefully that the Chinese avant-garde carries on the probe into the darkness of history in a quest for transcendent truths about human conditions." —Ban Wang, William Haas Professor in Chinese Studies, Stanford University

"Zhansui Yu’s insightful study of Chinese avant-garde fiction opens a new world of understanding and interpretation. Written by an experienced and active Chinese intellectual also trained and teaching in North America, this study takes the avant-garde writings of three key authors—Su Tong, Yu Hua, and Ge Fei—as a genre, rather than as a proxy for political debates or as examples of foreign influence. This allows Yu to analyse the aesthetic and philosophical contributions of Chinese avant-garde literature in response to the challenge in post-Mao China of making sense of historical trauma and massive social change. This book will change how we read the Chinese avant-garde." —Timothy Cheek, Louis Cha Chair in Chinese Research, University of British Columbia

"This perceptive historical and literary-critical study of the works of Su Tong, Yu Hua, and Ge Fei—three leading avant-garde writers of 1980s’China—clearly reveals the ways in which they undermined the history of China put forward by the state. This book reveals how these writers rejected, subverted, and finally transcended the late Maoist vision of China and created a new historical discourse. This innovative interpretive study of these writers also reminds us of the importance of the truth in creative fiction when the national media continues to offer much the opposite." —Michael Duke, Professor of Chinese Language and Literature, University of British Columbia


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