Hailing from Du’an County in Guangxi province, ethnic Zhuang author Fan Yiping was born in July, 1964. Born with the family name Fan (literally meaning “fence” or “basket”), he later changed his surname to a character of the same pronunciation but different meaning: “commonplace.” He currently serves as the vice-chairman of the Guangxi Writers Association and is a professor at the Guangxi University for Nationalities. He was a representative at the 12th and 13th National People’s Congresses. Publishing his first work in 1982, Fan has released seven novels including “Kneel”, eight collections of stories such as “The Hairdresser” and a collection of essays, “Dig Three Feet Into the Ground”. He has received awards including the Hundred Flowers Literature Award, the biennial Selected Stories Award, and the Chinese Writers Award. Fan’s novel “A Murder in Shangling Village” has been translated and published in Sweden and Vietnam, while another, “Mount Tiandeng” has been translated and published in Russia. Other works of Fan’s have been translated variously into Khmer and Thai.
Fan is considered “a novelist beloved by contemporary Chinese producers, movie-makers, and directors.” His novel “Kneel” was adapted into a 20-part television series by the same name; in 2002, his novella “The Search for the Missing Gun” made the journey to the big screen with the film “The Missing Gun” , which, directed by Lu Chuan and starring Jiang Wen and Ning Jing, set a box office record for that year; directed by the painter Chen Yifei and starring Chen Kun and Zeng Li, the film “The Hairdresser” — adapted from Fan’s novella of the same name — was met with critical acclaim when it screened across the country and in 2007 was turned into a television series that occupied the top of that period’s TV rankings; also in 2007, Fan’s novella “A Lying Village” was adapted into the film “The Precious Secret,” which launched leading actors Zu Feng and Jiang Yiyan into cinematic stardom. In addition, other works of Fan’s including his novels “Mount Tiandeng”,“Doggerel”, “Old Gun” and “A Murder in Shangling Village”, and his novellas “Poker”, “An Exceptional Interrogation” ,“Run, Sister” ,“The Lucky Drunkard” ,“Surrender” and “Wei Wukuan’s Police Officer Dreams” have either been turned into movies and television series or rubber-stamped for future on-screen adaptations.
Fan’s novels place great emphasis on the visualization of suspenseful scenarios, conflicted representations of characters, and humorous concoctions of scenes. The reading experience of his work is one that is highly sensory and visual. Common to the characters in Fan’s novels is a sense of identity anxiety; many marginalized groups of people within his works display voracious desires, clashing personalities, and ethical tendencies that can only be described as ignorant. The formation of these psychological, pathological changes has its origins in the author’s own malaise upon moving from the countryside to the city, and the collective cultural psyche shared among writers born in the 1960s.
There are two works that best represent Fan’s writing. A novel that focuses on the psychological problems afflicting a “left-behind” woman living in the countryside, “A Murder in Shangling Village” offers a deep dissection and judgement of the ignorance and immorality that characterize rural migrants living within urban civilization. Then there is “Mount Tiandeng” , another novel of Fan’s that is set against the backdrop of urbanization. The story follows one rural woman’s search for the road of redemption after she falls into prostitution upon traveling to the city for work.
Fan’s recent novel “The Annals of Shangling Village” was published chapter-by-chapter in a periodical, after which it was syndicated as a whole in such well-known Chinese publications as “Selected Stories”,“Novel Monthly”,“Beijing Literature: Novella Monthly”， “Selected Novellas” and “Changjiang Literature and Art: Good Novels”. While the work appears absurdist and progressive in its narrative, everything about it can in fact be traced back to a contemplation about human character. The novel has been considered the author’s “boundary-pushing work of art” and “a work that offers redemption for the soul.”