Wang Meng is a male writer from China. Born October 1934 in Beijing, Wang is originally from Nanpi, Hebei province, though his ancestral hometown is Cangzhou. Wang is a former Minister of Culture of China, and Honorary Vice President of Chinese Writers Association. Wang Meng’s given name was suggested by family friend and poet He Qifang, and is based on the character Armand from the French novel La Dame aux Camélias. In 1953, Wang Meng wrote his first novel Forever Young. His representative works includeForever Young, A New Arrival at the Organization Department and Activity Changes Human Form. In 2014, a 45-volume of his collected works was published. His novel Scenery On This Side was awarded the 9th Mao Dun Literature Prize. Many of his works have been translated into English, French, German, Italian and Russian.
Idealism features prominently in Wang Meng’s works. Wang specializes in stream of consciousness writing which focuses on the innermost thoughts of his characters. Wang Meng is a lifelong learner, having taught himself English, German, Russian, French, Japanese and Polish. Wang Meng has always maintained a positive attitude towards life, and said he would like to be a "sunshine boy".
Wang Meng’s early realistic novel Forever Young depicts the coming of age of a group of students at a girls’ school in Beijing in 1952. The novel is a tribute to the beauty of youth, exploration and love. A New Arrival at the Organization Department is about the setbacks faced by the young primary school teacher Lin Zhen when opposing the bureaucracy at his new job. In drawing a comparison between his situation with that of the two other main characters, the story affirms the positive qualities of Lin’s idealism. Activity Changes Human Form has been praised as a “master work”. The novel describes the experiences of visiting scholar Ni Zao and his father's old friend Ni Wucheng who has just come back from abroad and attempts to transform his deeply conservative family with his understanding of Western culture. The novel focuses on the characters’ mentalities and presents them in a stream-of-consciousness structure. Scenery On This Side uses Wang Meng's rich experience in Xinjiang as its source material to tell uplifting stories of people from different ethnic groups living together in a specific historical context. The magnificent scenery and the hard-working spirit of the people feature prominently.
In 2017, Wang Meng's new collection Goddess was published. Like many other of Wang’s works, it is concerned about the fate of Chinese women and their exploration of the mysteries of history and human nature. Wang Meng still continues to produce outstanding works well into his senior years.