China’s New ‘Ultra-Unreal’ Fiction: Only Strange Art Can Explain It – Observer


Visitors browse Chinese political books at the Hong Kong Book Fair in Hong Kong on July 18, 2012. Philippe Lopez/AFP/GettyImages)

In our last column, we discussed a few Chinese fiction writers who have gained recognition in the West over the last several years, defining a new paradigm of contemporary literature in the country that ignores or outright rejects Chinese literary stereotypes. We mentioned the young novelist Hao Jingfang, who took home a Hugo award for her web novelette Folding Beijing, a compellingly-wrought tale that addresses class distinctions, wealth inequality, surveillance technology, and urban stratification in an unspecified-future version of China’s capital. In an interview published after the English edition of Folding Beijing was released, Hao describes her inspiration to capture the opaque social structure that characterizes the city today.

“One…



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