Zhang Wei was born November, 1956 in Longkou, Shandong province, China. He is the current Vice President of the Chinese Writers Association. He started to publish his writing in 1975, and is a recipient of a number of awards, including the Mao Dun Literature Prize and the Lu Xun Literary Prize. Over 40 of his works have been translated into English, French, Japanese, Korean, German, Arabic, Turkish, Swedish, Serbian, Russian and Italian. His novels The Ancient Ship andSeptember’s Fable have been published in both Simplified and Traditional Chinese, with the former having over 50 overseas editions, and the latter over 30.
As a local of the Shandong Peninsula, Zhang’s works are characterized by use of fantastic and romantic tropes harking back to the ancient kingdom of Qi. Translator Howard Goldblatt once remarked, “Zhang Wei is one of the most prolific and respected authors in contemporary Chinese fiction. Zhang was 28 when he started writing The Ancient Ship. It is a breakthrough work in terms of its content, style and historicity. It is also a milestone in the history of Chinese fiction that speaks to our collective humanity. In the West, Zhang Wei is something of an enigma.” Ma Yueran said, “Since publishing The Ancient Ship, Zhang Wei has secured his place as one of the greatest Chinese writers.” Robert Bowman, Chairman of the American Society of Indexing, said, “I have followed Zhang Wei’s writing since the early 1990s. I commend him for his works The Ancient Ship, September’s Fable and Seven Kinds of Mushroom. He is my favorite Chinese writer. I have been moved by his impressive poetic sensibility, the charm of his language, and his realistic depictions of history.”
Two of Zhang Wei’s works could be considered most representative. First is his novel The Ancient Ship which depicts over a century of turmoil and transformation in China. The work gives voice to suffering, sacrifice, patience and reflection. It has not been out of print for over three decades, and secured Zhang’s reputation as formidable figure on the literary scene. Second is his novel September’s Fable. The story is of the Chinese fantasy genre and is set in a small village on the Shandong Peninsula. Considered one of his best works, the novel has remained a best-seller for over 30 years.
Public response to Zhang Wei’s latest novelsThe Single Pharmacist andThe Secret History of Aiyue Castle has been overwhelmingly positive, with the works being praised as among the author’s most exciting creations. Described as both a revolutionary legend and romantic tragedy, The Single Pharmacist has revealed the thrilling history of revolution on the Shandong Peninsula. Revolving around the richest man on the peninsula and the sixth generation of pharmacists, the story tells of the conflicts and integration of the four major religions of Christianity, Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism in China and explores the origin and history of alchemists in China. The Secret History of Aiyue Castle is about a business tycoon who takes over a coastal fishing village. The novel is a meticulous exploration of what happens when capitalism and materialism clashes with local communities, and a veritable account of the development of China’s economy and culture in a new era.