Ge Fei

(né Liu Yong)
b. 1964, Dantu, Jiangsu
Writer
Ge Fei is best known for his experiments with meta-fictional forms during the 1980s. Not a professional writer, he teaches composition, and narrative and film theory at Qinghua University in Beijing. Ge Fei became a central figure in avant-garde/experimental literature after the publication of his second story ‘Lost Boat’ (Michuan), using a meta-fictional style influenced by the Argentinean writer Borges. His next story, ‘A Flock of Birds’ (Hese niaoqun), is generally acknowledged to be one of the most intricate, psychoanalytical and esoteric stories of the late 1980s.
All of Ge Fei’s stories feature an outside interrogator (doctor, policeman) which adds feelings of detachment and displacement to an already alienated authorial self. This highly self-conscious and stylistically ambitious fiction represents a self that doubts the nature of existence as much as the process of writing: memory, history, myth and reality all occupy the same indeterminate space. In his novel Enemy (Diren), a mysterious fire kills a man and for years to come causes terrorizing suspicion about who this enemy might be—in Ge Fei’s later fiction, the doubting self also becomes a threatened self. Because of his disregard for causality and temporality, Ge Fei did not easily attract a large audience after the 1980s. Consequently his novel Banner of Desire (Yuwang de qizhi, 1996) abandoned his earlier radical experiments in narrative structure, although the work continues to describe the moral and ethical disintegration of society.
Ge, Fei (1993). ‘The Lost Boat’. Trans. Caroline Mason. In Henry Zhao (ed.), The Lost Boat: Avant-Garde Fiction from China. London: Wellsweep, 77–100.
(1998). ‘Whistling’, trans. Victor Mair; ‘Green Yellow’, trans. Eva Shan Chou; ‘Remembering Mr. Wu You’, trans. Howard Goldblatt. In Wang Jing (ed.), China’s Avant-Garde Fiction. Durham: Duke University Press, 15–68.
Wang, Jing (1993). ‘The Mirage of Chinese “Postmodernism”: Ge Fei, Self-Positioning, and the Avant-Garde Showcase’. positions: east asian cultures critique 1.2:349–88.
Yang, Xiaobin (2002). ‘Ge Fei: Indeterminate History and Memory’. In idem, The Chinese Postmodern: Trauma and Irony in Chinese Avant-Garde Fiction. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 168–87.
Zhang, Xudong (1997). Chinese Modernism in the Era of Reforms: Cultural Fever, Avant-Garde Fiction and the New Chinese Cinema. Durham: Duke University Press.
BIRGIT LINDER

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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