Wong Bik Wan
黄碧云 Huang Biyun
MCLC / Chinese Short Stories
Huang Biyun was born in Hong Kong and educated there and in France. After coming back to Hong Kong, she worked first as a scriptwriter and freelance reporter before her career as an author picked up. She has published two novels, Portraits of Martyred Women and The Enchanting Novice, yet is most famous for her short stories, the best of which can be found in the collections After This and Tenderness and Violence (Hong Kong, New World Publications, 1994). Her early short story, "I'm a Woman, She's a Woman," about desire, love and loss in a relationship between two women, has been translated into English twice.
Huang Biyun's protagonists tend to be young women. They very often reappear in stories other than their own, a cast of characters through which the author explores the vast differences in female personalities. The city of Hong Kong is never a direct subject of scrutiny, but rather like a shadow or a dream, following the characters wherever they go -- like a floating world of the memory, a home to which the vagrant characters can never return. Huang Biyun's stories also frequently engage the darker and more violent aspects of human life, and she has displayed proficiency for writing about brutality and abuse.
Like many of her short stories, her novels Portraits of Martyred Women and The Enchanting Novice are strongly feminist in their subject matter and tone. The Enchanted Novice focuses on the problems of freedom. The first half of the book examines the restrictions placed on individual freedom by the needs of daily life, while the second half exposes the artificiality of the pursuit of freedom. By contrast, Portraits of Martyred Women, which won the 6th Hong Kong Biennial Award for fiction, exhibits three generations of women, each headed under "My Grandmother," "My Mother" or "You," against a bleak hundred-year historical progression.