Xu Xing

b. 1956, Beijing
Xu Xing lives in Beijing, having spent several years in Germany in the 1990s. Left by himself as a child, and with no schooling during the Cultural Revolution (his parents had been sent far away for re-education), his mind was oriented towards feelings of loneliness, bitterness and humour, and he has travelled and wandered in many distant places of China. These feelings also stand as the main topics of his literary explorations. He lives at the edge of main and established streams. He wrote several short stories in the mid 1980s which gave him notoriety—the most well-known are collected in Variations Without a Theme (Wu zhuti biancou, 1985). These stories, which are considered to be characteristic of the new modernist current, express a quest for spatial and individual freedom, a taste for humour and fantasy, and an ability to picture common people in a vision which, however, emerges out of official schemes. Through an ‘on the road’ mood, individuality appears as a disintegrated entity in his writings. As a man who likes to travel in foreign countries as well as in his own, Xu Xing also explores popular culture.
He has made some works for television and cinema, and a documentary film about an old woman painter in the economically poor and remote countryside of Shaanxi, where he lived for two years during the Cultural Revolution and to which he returned in 2002.
Xu, Xing (1997). ‘Variations Without a Theme’ and Other Stories. Trans. Maria Galikowski and Lin Min. Sydney: Wild Peony.
——(1992). Le Crabe à lunettes. Trans. Sylvie Gentil. Paris: Éditions Julliard.
Lin, Min and Galikowski, Maria (1999). ‘Absurdity, Senselessness, and Alienation: Xu Xing’s Literary Reflections on the Contemporary Human Condition’. In idem, The Search for Modernity: Chinese Intellectuals and Cultural Discourse in the Post-Mao Era. New York: St Martin’s Press, 103–22.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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