Wang Meng, A Life
The Memoir of One of Contemporary China's Greatest Writers and Former Minister of Culture
Translated by Zhu Hong and Liu Haiming
Introduction by Catherine Vance Yeh
2018, 408 pages
ISBN 978-1-937385-72-9 Cloth $58.00
ISBN 978-1-937385-60-6 Paper $33.00
Wang Meng's autobiography is a colorful record of life in an eventful era when one could get up in the morning a CCP official and go to bed an "enemy" of the people. Banished as a rightest to distant Xinjiang, Wang Meng mastered the Huigur language, learned farming skills, and was embraced by the Huigurs as one of their own. Re-installed as a writer when political turmoil had quieted down, Wang Meng took advantage of the "opening-up" policy to widen his literary horizon, and produced new writings of striking sophistication and irony.
The attack on his short story "Hard Porridge," a masterpiece of irony (first English translation published in the Paris Review), only served to highlight his genius and started off a seriocomic string of writings on "porridge" from every conceivable angle by a host Chinese writers, becoming the memorable event of the year.
Wang Meng did not change his spots when he became Minister of Culture and a member of the Chinese People’s Consultative Conference. While making contributions to cultural exchanges on the international scene, Wang Meng kept his identity as a writer, first and foremost.