Born in 1976, Ah Yi (real name Ai Guozhu) worked as a police
officer, secretary and editor before settling down at the age of 32 to
the fiction he always knew he would write. Hardly a celebrated figure
in China's literary circles, Ah Yi's stubborn dedication to his art
and slightly standoffish personality have meant his slowly growing
prominence has depended on the support of non-mainstream media and
literary figures who have spotted his talent. After a brief stint on
the editorial board of Chutzpah, a new literary magazine
featuring work by younger and edgier writers (like Ah Yi himself), he
moved to the Xiron publishing company, where he is an editor of the
the "Iron Gourd" literary-fiction imprint.
While he has been posting short stories and commentary on his blog
since the beginning of 2004, A Yi did not appear in print until his
first collection of short stories, Grey Stories, was published
in 2008. This was followed in 2010 by The Bird Saw Me, another
short story collection that carried on and developed Ah Yi's bizarre
literary style and utterly unsentimental worldview. A book of
observations, blog posts, and sketches, Guaren, was published
in 2011, and his first longer piece, the novella Now, What Shall
I Do Next?, is set to come out in China in 2012. Though highly
popular with a select group of readers and writers (Li Jingze, head
editor of People's Literature Magazine regularly praises him
publicly), Ah Yi's reputation has not yet spread to a wider reading
public (and, given the darkness of his subject matter, it might not).
An English translation of his story "The Curse" can be read here.
A Yi is represented by Peony Literary Agency.
See Asymptote's Sinophone "20 Under 40"