Jia Pingwa


Jia Pingwa (1952- ) stands with Mo Yan and Yu Hua as one of the biggest names in contemporary Chinese literature. A prolific producer of novels, short stories and essays, he has a tremendous audience on the Chinese mainland, as well as in Hong Kong and Taiwan. At present his reputation abroad does not match his reputation at home, his only novel in English being Turbulence, which was published in 2003 and won the Pegasus Prize for Literature; the rest of his sizeable corpus of novels and short fiction is available for translation. His standout novels include Happy, Ruined City and Qin Opera, while his most famous collection of short stories, Shangzhou, is based on the lives of people in his home region of Shangzhou in Sha'anxi Province.

Jia Pingwa's fiction focuses on the lives of common people, particularly in his home province of Sha'anxi, and is well-known for being unafraid to explore the realm of the sexual. His 1993 bestseller Ruined Capital was banned for many years for that same reason, and pirated copies sold on the street for several thousand RMB apiece. His longer narratives are heavy on detail, almost to the point of being digressive, but he does pay attention to his characters. In the hands of a good translator, Ruined Capital could turn into a bestseller in English, which is perhaps why Jia is so sensitive about the offers he gets for it.

Amongst his major works:

  • 《商州初录》 (Shangzhou Chulu)
  • 《浮躁》 (Fuzao), translated as Turbulence
  • 《废都》 (Feidu) "Ruined City": translation by Howard Goldblatt, OU Press, 2016: http://www.oupress.com/ECommerce/Book/Detail/2080/ruined%20city. Has appeared in French as La Capitale Dechue
  • 《白夜》 (Baiye)
  • 《土门》 (Tumen)
  • 《高老庄》 (Gaolao Zhuang)
  • 《天狗》 (Tiangou)
  • 《黑氏》 (Heishi)
  • 《美穴地》 (Meixuedi)
  • 《五魁》 (Wukui)
  • 《妊娠》 (Renshen)
  • 《怀念狼》 (Huainianlang)
  • 《病相报告》 (Bingxiang Baogao)
  • 《秦腔》 (Qinqiang)
  • [《高兴》(Gaoxing, trans ‘Happy’)
About Jia Pingwa, in English
  • Narrating China: Jia Pingwa and his Fictional World by Yiyan Wang (Routledge Contemporary China Series, 2006).
  • ‘The Macho Eunuch: The Politics of Masculinity in Jia Pingwa's “Human Extremities”’ by Kam Louie, Modern China Vol. 17, No. 2, 163-187 (1991)
  • ‘Flies’ Eyes, Mural Remnants, and Jia Pingwa’s Perverse Nostalgia’ by Carlos Rojas, positions: east Asia cultures critique 14.3 (2006) 749-773

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Original Works