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Han Shaogong is one of the representative names of Chinese contemporary literature, often mentioned in the same breath as Wang Meng, Feng Jicai and Liu Suola. During the mid-eighties, he led the development of a literary school called "Root-seeking literature," the practitioners of which sought to distill an independent, "Chinese" narrative from their rural backgrounds. Something of a hermit, Han Shaogong moved back to the countryside of his native Hunan province after several years working for the Writer's Association of Hainan.
A prolific writer, Han Shaogong is famous for his novellas Da Da Da and Woman Woman Woman, as well as for the full-length novel A Dictionary of Maqiao, first published in 1996 and translated by Julia Lovell into English in 2003. In 1987, he collaborated on a translation of Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being into Chinese. Passionately interested (like Shen Congwen) in the mystical traditions that set Hunan and its people apart from the rest of China, he has long searched for an alternative to Han culture in Hunan's ancient history. His narrative voice is mature the way few others in China are today: precise, patient, independent and merciless without being theatrical.