The”Enfant Terrible of Chinese Fiction”
Celebrated for his darkly funny tales of contemporary Chinese urban life, New York Times columnist Murong has emerged as one of China’s leading dissident voices. Murong was twenty eight and working as a sales manager in the car industry when he started posting his first novel Leave Me Alone: A Novel of Chengdu on the internet. In 2002 it became a cult hit amongst young middle class Chinese looking for writing that pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable literature.
Chengdu was eventually posted on almost all of China’s online bulletin boards, and attracted around 5 million online readers. Thousands of web commentaries and impassioned debates about the book appeared, while ‘formal’ commentaries and critiques amounted to more than 50,000 words. The novel won the China Literary Journal’s 2003 literature prize, and the English translation was nominated for the 2009 Man Asia Literary Prize. In 2010, a narrative non-fiction work The Missing Ingredient, which recounts Murong’s experiences of going undercover to bust an illegal pyramid sales scheme,was awarded the 2010 People’s Literature special prize.
Unlike most of his peers, Murong is an independent Chinese writer who has never joined the government-sponsored China Writers Association. Murong’s other best-selling novels have included More Die of Greed and his celebrated Dancing Through Red Dust, which will be published in an English translation in September 2015.
Murong’s first English-language book in six years is a panoramic novel of patchwork brilliance, relentless energy and dark humour, Dancing Through Red Dust is a gripping thriller that delves into the secretive world of China’s legal system. Lawyer Wei Da destroys evidence, hides his assets and plans to flee China. About to escape, he is incarcerated in the horrific Cao River Remand Centre. The worst of human nature is exhibited here and even as Wei Da tries to atone, the day of his execution encroaches. The novel was subjected to extensive cuts in China, with the publisher forced to close within months.
“This lively translation… as literary as it is page-turning.” The Age
“…an important turning point in Chinese literature.” Southern Weekend
Murong’s first novel Leave Me Alone: A Novel of Chengdu is an unflinching, darkly funny take on love and life in modern China. It’s the story of three young men, Chen Zhong, Li Liang and Big Head Wang and their tragi-comic struggles to make their way in Chengdu, China’s fifth most populous city. Despite their aspirations in the newly capitalist China, the trio’s lives are beset by dead-end jobs, gambling debts, drinking, drugs, and whoring. Chen Zhong is married to Zhao Yue. Although he loves her, he plays around with other women. But it isn’t until Chen Zhong discovers that Zhao Yue is having an affair that he realizes exactly how much he stands to lose…
After becoming one of China’s first web success stories the book was picked up by the Inner Mongolia People’s Publishing House. Two new editions were later published by 21st Century Publishing House and Epoch Publishing House. Over the 3 editions, Chengdu is estimated to have sold over 500,000 copies.
In 2003, Chengdu was brought to the stage in Shanghai, in a play which broke box office records. TV and film versions have also been screened in China.
In 2007, Chengdu was published in France. Publisher (Editons de l’Oliver). In 2008 the novel was published in Germany (Zweitundeins), and in 2009 the first English translation was published in Australia by Allen & Unwin, and was long-listed for the Man Asia Literary Prize.
An Independent Chinese Writer
Murong – winner of a 2010 People’s Literature Award, one of China’s highest literary awards – is no stranger to controversy. A staunch critic of the Chinese state, he was prevented from delivering his acceptance speech at the awards, calling for an end to state censorship. Unlike many of his peers, he has never joined in the government-sponsored China Writers Association.
Click here to learn more about Murong the independent writer and read a selection of his speeches and columns in English.
NewYork Times Profile
When the novelist Murong Xuecun showed up at a ceremony here last year to receive his first literary prize, he clutched a sheet of paper with some of the most incendiary words he had ever written. It was a meditation on the malaise brought on by censorship. “Chinese writing exhibits symptoms of a mental disorder,” he planned to say.
This society is like a dirty river”, Chinese novelist Murong Xuecun says, his words tumbling out in a rapid-fire stream. “The river holds all kinds of people and all kinds of behaviour. Some can melt into the river, others can’t.” Murong’s dark world view has informed a string of Chinese bestsellers and made him the enfant terrible of the country’s often staid literary scene.
If it weren’t for the Internet, Murong Xuecun might still be working as a sales manager at a car company in the southern Chinese city of Chengdu. That is what he was doing when he started writing his first novel on his office’s online bulletin board system back in 2001.
Week by week when he got home from work, Murong would post new pieces to a story that painted a bleak yet honest picture of modern urban life in the city where he lived. It contained tales about sex, love, gambling and drugs and became so popular that it soon appeared on numerous other online forums. Read more
Murong Xuecun’s Leave Me Alone is a heady race into the heart of capitalist China, where hedonism and emotional impoverishment go hand in hand. Read more
Murong’s Chinese Blog: http://blog.sina.com.cn/hawking