Zhang Jie (writer)

Zhang Jie (traditional Chinese: 張潔; simplified Chinese: 张洁; pinyin: Zhāng Jié; Wade–Giles: Chang Chieh, born 1937) is a Chinese novelist and short-story writer. In the meanwhile, she was also the co-author of a biography of the film director Wu Zuguang in 1986. She worked on writing different kinds of books for or with young protagonists, these types of works are included in junior and senior high school textbooks in China.[1] She is one of China's first contributors to feminist fiction. In Zhang Jie's works, she mainly worked on the themes of "people" and "love", she often emphasizes the emotions and relationships between mother and daughter, which was formed mainly by early poverty and the fierce protection of her mother. The Person Who loved me the most on earth is gone is the long story,which is a kind of long self-statement recounted the last eighty days and nights of her mother's life, who died in 1991.[2] She remembered her mother's submission, dependence and forbearance to her, and her consideration, complaint and regret to her mother. This novel is a simple and unpretentious expression of the love between mother and daughter.

Zhang Jie
Native name
Born1937 (age 83–84)
Beijing, China
Alma materRenmin University of China
Period1960 - present
GenreNovel, prose
Subject"People" and "Love"
Notable worksLeaden Wings
Notable awards2nd Mao Dun Literature Prize
1985 Leaden Wings
6th Mao Dun Literature Prize
2005 Wuzi
ChildrenTang Di

Zhang Jie's novel Leaden Wings was translated into German in 1982 and published in England in 1987 by Virago Press. She was awarded the Mao Dun Literature Prize in 1985 for Leaden Wings and in 2005 for Without a Word, making her the first writer to receive the award twice.[3] She is not only the only one writer who has won the Mao Dun Literature Price twice, but is also one of the most influential writers in contemporary China. [4] Zhang Jie is a representative of female writers in contemporary China. In her words, she creates many female images with different life paths and destinies, and explores the situation of women in the contemporary China from her unique perspective.



Early life

Zhang Jie was born in Beijing on April 27, 1937,[5] and was raised up by her mother in a village in Fushun, in Liaoning Province. Zhang Jie was born in a modest civil-servant family. Her parents were separated when she was very young, and then she lived with her mother and took her mother's last name. Zhang Jie and her mother were dependent on each other and spent long, miserable years in the turbulent times. Her mother worked as a teacher in the village elementary school and was forced to work as a servant and a factory mail-woman. Zhangjie was fond of music and literature when She was in elementary school and middle school.[6] [7]In 1960, She graduated from the Department of Statistics in Renmin University of China (People's University), and went to work for the First Ministry of Machinery Industry.[7] Zhang Jie married to a singer in the theatrical work unity and had a daughter called Tang Di, she and her husband got divorced in 1969. During the Cultural Revolution, she was sent to the "May 7 cadre school" and returned to Beijing in 1972 and back to work in the First Ministry of Machinery Industry.[1] Zhang Jie has endured many pains in her personal life, she has supported a family of three generations of women for a long time with her strong perseverance.

After the Cultural Revolution, Zhang Jie finally started her literary work, she published her first novelThe Child of the Forest in 1978. Once published in Beijing Literature and Art, the novel immediately attracted the attention of the literary world, and won the Best Short Stories, this was her first entry into the literary world. In the following year, she published a number of short stories and joined the Chinese Writer's Association. Zhang Jie joined the Communist Party in 1980. The novel Leaden Wings published in April 1981, which immediately aroused strong reactions and controversies, and almost became a notable event in the literary world and the society. In 1982, she joined the International PEN China Center and accompanied a delegation of Chinese writers to the United States to attend the first Sino-American Writers' Conference, she was the vice chairman of the Beijing Writers' Association.[1] She has visited and been invited countless times to hold readings of her works, lectures and press conferences in Berlin, Paris, Vienna and other parts of the world. Leaden Wings was reissued by the People's Literature Publishing House in July 1984 and was well received by the literary community and won the 2nd Mao Dun Literature Prize of 1985. Over the years, Zhang Jie's creative works have been very successful. From December 1984 to January 1985, Zhang Jie attended the Fourth Congress of the Chinese Writer's Association. By 1986, Zhang Jie was the first writer of the new period to win three national awards. Some of her works have been translated into foreign languages and distributed around the world. [2]


  • Best Short Stories of 1978 --- The Child of the Forest
  • Best Short Stories of 1979 --- Who Knows how to live
  • Best Short Stories of 1983 --- The Time is not yet ripe
  • Best Novellas of 1983-1984 --- Emerald (Zu Mulü)
  • 2nd Mao Dun Literature Prize of 1985 --- Leaden Wings
  • 6th Mao Dun Literature Prize of 2005 --- Without A World

Main works

  • The Child of the Forest (Cong senlin li laide haizi) (1978)
  • Love Must Not be Forgotten (1979)
  • Leaden Wings (沉重的翅膀) (1981)
  • The Ark (1982)
  • On a Green Lawn (1983)
  • Emerald (1984)
  • If Nothing Happens, Nothing Will (1986)
  • Only One Sun (1988)
  • As Long As Nothing Happens, Nothing Will' (translated short stories, 1988)
  • A Chinese Woman in Europe (1989)
  • You are a Friend of my Soul (1990)
  • Fever (Shang Huo) (1991)
  • Interior Heat (1992)
  • In the Twilight (1994)
  • The Person Who loved me the most on earth is gone (Shijieshang zui teng wo de nage ren qu le) (世界上最疼我的那个人去了) (1994)
  • Why... in the First Place? (1994)
  • A Collection of Proses (1995)
  • Oversea Travels (1995)
  • Without A Word (Wu Zi) (无字) (2002)

Introduction of works

The Child of the Forest (从森林里来的孩子)

This was the first work of Zhang jie in 1978, which was a stroy took place during the Cultural Revolution, it is a work of Scar literature. The Scar Literature was a literary phenomenon that dominated the literary scene in mainland China from the late 1970s to the early 1980s. The story describes a touching story about a student who traveled thousands of miles to take an examination in the Central Conservatory of Music in order to fulfill his teacher's wishes, this teacher is one of the most talented musician in that period. [8] The protagonisst, Sun Changning, is the son of a lumberjack. Although he lives in the forest, he has to be branded with "Scars" during the Cultural Revolution. With this novel, Zhang Jie wants to express the belief that art is one of the things that can sustain the human spirit during the Cultural Revolution, but only if the belief in art is honest and not evil.

Leaden Wings (沉重的翅膀)

This novel can also be called as Heavy Wings[6] for the different translations, this novel was awarded in the 2nd Mao Dun Literature Prize of 1985. The experience of Zhang Jie working in the First Ministry of Machinery Industry provided her with the inspiration and knowledge to write about this novel on the problems faced by the companies.[9] Zhang Jie not only conveys people's reform ideals, but also describes the cruxs of the society with exquisite style. The "heavy" reformer she created belongs to the literary image of the deepening period of reform. The novel, with the theme of reform, revolves around the work and life of high-level cadres. On the one hand, it shows the contents of enterprise management and political thought of the Ministry of Heavy Industry in China, and focuses on the efforts of several reformers. On the other hand, it also shows the family life of different characters. Through the description of their life, it reflects Zhang Jie's thinking on marriage.

Without A Word (Wu Zi) (无字)

Love is one of the major themes in Wu Zi. Zhang Jie uses interspersion technique to integrate the description of the Times with the personal life experiences of a female writer called Wu Wei, describes the marriage story of Wu Wei and several generations of women in her family.[10] The context of this book is based on a time of upheaval and big change in China. It expresses women's realistic demands for love, marriage and family freedom at different stages in the new era, and shows the arduous and difficult course of women's liberation. This novel is the second time that Zhang Jie has won the 6th Mao Dun Literature Prize after Leaden Wings.[3] Zhang Jie tried to use the emotional experience of several generations in this novel to break the shackles of Chinese women, but she found that everything was in vain. Women were giving everything to fight with love, but the tragic fate could not change.

Love Must Not Be Forgotten (爱是不能被忘记的)

This short story showed the topic of what Zhang jie is mainly woking on, "Love", and unraveled the tragedy of Zhong Yu and the old cadre's "lovers cannot be married" through the memories of her mother by a 30-year-old unmarried young woman named Shan Shan. [11] This story shows two types of love at the same time, one is the love between the daughter and her mother, the other one is the love story of mother and a senior official in the Communist Party of who her mother had always loved. Zhong Yu wrote down her infinite affection for this man in her notebook called "Love, is not to forget". The obstacle in their love was that the man, out of gratitude and duty, married the fiancée of his fellow sodier who gave his life to protect the senior official.[12]

The Ark (方舟)

This novel advocats that men and women should first have social equality, is Zhang Jie's most personal characteristic works. The novel describes three high school classmates, after a long and bumpy life, in order to get rid of the pain of reality, and respectively leave their husbands to get together in a residential unit, they called this resident the "Ark", to seek temporary shelter. The three women are all highly educated and intelligent women who are not respected in their marriage, and being biased by neighbors because divorce or separation, yet they also have difficulties mainiy on facing hostility and abuse at work. .[13] Through realism, it expresses the anxiety, loneliness and desolation of modern intellectual women's life path and spiritual pursuit.

Further reading

  • Bloomsbury Guide to Women's Literature
  • Who Knows how to live in 1979
  • Screeplays of Zhang Jie's novels
  • "ZhangJie zhuzuo xinian," Zhangjie yanjiu zhuanji, by He Huoren


  1. ^ a b c Eva Shan Chou (2013). "Zhang Jie (27 April 1937-)." Chinese Fiction Writers, 1950-2000, edited by Thomas Moran and Ye (Dianna) Xu. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 370. p. 288.CS1 maint: location (link)
  2. ^ a b Eva Shan Chou (2013). "Zhang Jie (27 April 1937-)." Chinese Fiction Writers, 1950-2000, edited by Thomas Moran and Ye (Dianna) Xu. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 370. pp. 292–293.CS1 maint: location (link)
  3. ^ a b "Zhang Jie" . International Literature Festival Berlin. 2003. Retrieved 2010-04-27.
  4. ^ Cheng, Yin (2017). "张洁小说悲剧性研究" . Retrieved 2021-04-25.
  5. ^ Leung, Laifeng (2016). Contemporary Chinese Fiction Writers : Biography, Bibliography, and Critical Assessment. p. 294. ISBN 9781315719504.
  6. ^ a b eNotes Editorial (May 6, 2015). "Zhang Jie Biography -" . eNotes. Retrieved 2021-04-24.
  7. ^ a b Dillard, Annie (1984). "Zhangjie", Encounters with Chinese Writers. Wesleyan University Press. pp. 65–68.
  8. ^ Eva Shan Chou (2013). "Zhang Jie (27 April 1937-)." Chinese Fiction Writers, 1950-2000, edited by Thomas Moran and Ye (Dianna) Xu. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 370. p. 289.CS1 maint: location (link)
  9. ^ Zhongguo bashi niandai zhengming xiaoshuo jingxuan (中国八十年代争鸣小说 精选, Selected Chinese Controversial Stories in the 1980s), vol. 1. Beijing: Shidai wenyi chubanshe. 1992. pp. 47–73.
  10. ^ "《无字》_中国作家网" . 2006. Retrieved 2021-04-23.
  11. ^ Dillard, Annie (1984). "Zhangjie," Encounters with Chinese Writers. Wesleyan University Press. pp. 69–74.
  12. ^ Leung, Laifeng (2016). Contemporary Chinese Fiction Writers : Biography, Bibliography, and Critical Assessment. p. 382. ISBN 9781315719504.
  13. ^ Eva Shan Chou (2013). "Zhang Jie (27 April 1937-)." Chinese Fiction Writers, 1950-2000, edited by Thomas Moran and Ye (Dianna) Xu. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 370. p. 291.CS1 maint: location (link)

External links


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