This book examines the changes taking place in literary writing and publishing in contemporary China under the influence of the emerging market economy. It focuses on the revival of literary best sellers in the Chinese book market and the establishment of a best-seller production machine.
The author examines how writers have become cultural entrepreneurs, how state publishing houses are now motivated by commercial incentives, and how "second-channel, unofficial publishers and distributors both compete and cooperate with official publishing houses in a dual-track, socialist-capitalist economic system. Taken together, these changes demonstrate how economic development and culture interact in a postsocialist society, in contrast to the way they work in the mature capitalist economies of the West. That economic reforms have affected many aspects of Chinese society is well known, but this is the first comprehensive analysis of market influences in the literary field. This book thus offers a fresh perspective on the inner workings of contemporary Chinese society.
More than fifty short essays centered on specific writers and literary trends create an engaging and easily digestible history of Chinese literature from the Qing period (1895–1911) to today. The essays in this volume can be read sequentially for a chronological account or separately in conjunction with reading the literary works in Chinese or English-language translation. Each entry features author names and titles, as well as key terms and references, in English and in Chinese characters for readers who know or are learning Chinese, and each concludes with a bibliography of relevant primary and secondary sources.
The volume opens with eight thematic essays addressing general issues in the study of Chinese literature: the ethics of writing a literary history, the formation of the canon, the relationship between language and form, the influence of literary institutions and communities, the effects of censorship, and the role of different media on the development of literature. Subsequent essays focus on authors, their works, and their schools, with entries on Wang Anyi, Eileen Chang, Shen Congwen, Yu Dafu, Mao Dun, Xiao Hong, Yang Jiang, Ba Jin, Yan Lianke, Ding Ling, Liang Qichao, Lao She, Wang Shuo, Zhu Tianwen, Zhu Tianxin, Xi Xi, Gao Xingjian, Lu Xun, Mo Yan, and Qian Zhongshu. Woven throughout are more general pieces on late Qing fiction, popular entertainment fiction, martial arts fiction, experimental theater, post-Mao avant-garde poetry in China, post–martial law fiction from Taiwan, contemporary genre fiction from China, and recent Internet literature, among other topics. Both a teaching tool and a go-to research companion, this volume is a one-of-a-kind resource for mastering modern literature in the Chinese-speaking world.