September 2017: Bi Feiyu 毕飞宇
Bi Feiyu was born in 1964 in Jiangsu province and lives now in Nanjing. Though he spent six years as a journalist at Nanjing Daily, he only contributed 6,000 words during his entire tenure there, because (as he claimed in ’09) he had a nasty editor who didn’t appreciate his writing. He has won numerous literary prizes including the Lu Xun Literary Prize (twice) and the Man Asian Literary Prize for Three Sisters (玉米, 玉秀, 玉秧), translated by Howard Goldblatt. In 2011 he won the Mao Dun Prize for his novel Massage (推拿), also translated by Howard Goldblatt. He also co-wrote the movie script for Zhang Yimou’s film Shanghai Triad.
On August 21st, 2017, he was made a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, one of France’s highest honours, in recognition of his contribution to literature.
Bio adapted from Paper Republic.
For our book club this month we’re delighted to present his story ‘The Deluge’ (大雨如注), translated by Eric Abrahamsen and originally published in English in Pathlight magazine, summer 2013. You can find the story here in English translation and here in the original Chinese
Massage is also one of the novels which will be reviewed by our Reading Chinese book review network, so keep your eyes peeled for more on this! We’d like to thank Penguin China for kindly providing review copies of the novel to our network participants.
Wang Daifu is a sought-after blind practitioner of tuina, traditional pressure-point massage. His is a uniquely coveted skill, yet it is one of the few options open to the visually impaired in China. When he loses all his savings on the stock market, he returns to his provincial hometown to rebuild his life. His fiancée Xiao Kong accompanies him, but pressure quickly builds in their relationship as expectations collide, leading to choices that Wang Daifu never thought he would have to make.
Bertrand Mialaret, on My Chinese Books, discusses the book and interviews Bi Feiyu in this post from 2011.
And there’s an interesting article about the author and his work in the South China Morning Post magazine here.
More recently, Bi Feiyu was awarded one of France’s highest honours – being made Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. Here’s an article (in French) about the author and the ceremony on August 21st.