Li Yongping

b. 1947, Malaysia
Taiwan writer
Li Yongping was born in Malaysia, but subsequently moved to Taiwan for schooling. After coming to Washington University in St Louis for graduate school, Li returned to Taiwan to teach Chinese literature and focus on writing. Like fellow modernist Wang Wenxing, Li’s fiction often lacks a clear linear plot, and seeks to push the expressive potential of the Chinese language to its limits.
Li’s first major novel was The Jiling Chronicles (Jiling chunqiu, 1986). The novel revolves around the ways in which various inhabitants of a remote village respond to a rape and a resulting suicide, which take place before the novel actually begins. This act of sexual violence provides the narrative pivot around which the rest of the novel is structured. The reader is presented with a Roshomonstyle, kaleidoscopic view of mutually intersecting narrative lines, each of which provides an additional perspective on the rape and the cycles of retribution which follow. Li’s next two novels were The Eagle Haidong Qing (Haidong qing, 1992) and Zhu Ling’s Adventures in Wonderland (Zhu Ling manyou xianjing, 1998).
Totalling almost 1,500 pages, these two novels have overlapping characters and themes. The protagonists include Jin Wu, a Chinese literature professor who has returned to Taiwan after a stay in the United States, and Zhu Ling, the young girl with whom he develops an intimate friendship. Against a backdrop of rampant paedophilia and social corruption, Jin Wu sees Zhu Ling as a unique point of purity in an otherwise decadent social landscape. In this way, Li reflects on Taiwan’s socio-political status and its conflicted relationship with the mainland.
Li, Yongping (2003). The Jiling Chronicles. Trans. Howard Goldblatt and Sylvia Li-Chun Lin. New York: Columbia University Press.
Rojas, Carlos (1998). ‘Paternities and Expatriatisms: Li Yongping’s Zhu Ling Manyou Xianjing and the Politics of Rupture’. Tamkang Review 29.2: 22–44.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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