Liu Heng

(né Liu Guangjun)
b. 1954, Beijing
Writer
Liu Heng, a novelist, short-story writer and scriptwriter, is the most important representative of ‘new realistic writing’ (xin xieshi), which emerged in the middle of the 1980s. Originally a blue-collar worker, Liu Heng first came to public notice with his short story ‘Dogshit Food’ (Gouri de liangshi, 1985). The realistic depiction of scatological and psychological details of rural life has since become a hallmark of new realism in China. His fictional characters come from all walks of life, but most of his stories fashion a drama of depraved existence. In his later novels he evinces challenging characterizations of human vulnerability: Black Snow (Hei de xue) provides an interesting perception of an ex-convict’s life in a changing Beijing; Green River Daydreams (Canghe bairimeng) is a remarkable portrayal of the manifold psychological intrigues of a feudal family at the turn of the last century.
Liu Heng’s film scripts also have become central pieces in Chinese movie history. His novella Fuxi Fuxi was turned into the notable film Judou; Black Snow was rewritten as the movie Ben mingnian. He also wrote the scripts for Qiuju Goes to Court (Qiuju da guansi) and White Snow (Bai de xue), almost all the above directed by Zhang Yimou. Liu Heng is also noted for the extremely popular TV series, The Happy Life of Garrulous Zhang Damin (Pinzui Zhang Damin de xingfu shenghuo), a twenty-part series about an ordinary family trying to survive in a changing Beijing.
Linder, B. (1999). ‘Alienation and the Motif of the Unlived Life in Liu Heng’s Fiction’. Journal of Modern Literature in Chinese 2.2:119–48.
Liu, Heng (1993). Black Snow. Trans. Howard Goldblatt. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press.
——(1995). ‘Dogshit Food’. Trans. Sabina Knight. In Joseph S.M.Lau and Howard Goldblatt (eds), Columbia Anthology of Modern Chinese Literature, 416–28.
Visser, Robin (2002). ‘Privacy and its Ill Effects in Post-Mao Urban Fiction’. In Bonnie S.McDougall and Anders Hansson (eds), Chinese Concepts of Privacy. Leiden: Brill, 171–94.
BIRGIT LINDER

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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