Chinese writer Zhou Lili was born March 1984 in Sichuan. At 18 years of age, she moved to Beijing to study, live and work. She studied radio and television at the School of Journalism at Renmin University of China. Developing a preference for factual pieces, she shot a number of documentaries, and after graduating worked in the civil service for 11 years. Currently, Zhou works in publishing. In April 2008, Zhou’s father passed away, and shortly after the Wenchuan Earthquake occurred. The culmination of these two events spurred Zhou to start writing. In 2008, Zhou started to publish fiction in literary magazines. Over the past 10 years, she has published nearly 100 short stories and novellas, totaling over one million words. Zhou has received a number of literary awards, including the Fiction Selections Prize and Hundred Flowers Literary Prize, has published many short story collections including Joy and Perspective. Her novel Angel’s Stairway was translated for publication into Japanese.
According to Zhou, “Alienation between people cannot be bridged, and communication in many cases has little effect. This makes it very difficult to for people to truly understand each other in modern society.” As a result, helpless people and their struggles feature prominently in her writing. Her stories are often set in major cities like Beijing, allowing her to explore the loneliness of urban life. Zhou’s expertise lies in her ability to tell ordinary stories from unique perspectives.
Jogging in the Alley, considered one of Zhou Lili’s representative works, tells of the alienation of three generations of women. Eight Doors, another of her important stories, is about a single man who moves to an upper-class community in Beijing in an attempt to live a life of luxury he has no means to sustain. Zhou’s Artistic Series is another of her important works. Nearly 200,000 words in length, the series is made up of over a dozen short stories, each depicting a group of young contemporary artists in Beijing’s art scene and its Vanity Fair. Zhou’s writing has been praised as showing a wisdom beyond her years, and expressing the anxiety, boredom and misunderstandings of the middle class better than the previous generation of writers.