Zhang Jie

Zhang Jie
b. 1937, Manchuria
Winner of literary awards and an author whose works have been translated into a dozen languages, Zhang Jie is renowned for her brave probing of social problems. Zhang earned a degree in economics and worked as a statistician in an industrial ministry in Beijing until she was sent to a labour camp in 1968. After returning to Beijing, she published her first story in 1978. She has since produced a large body of poignant psychological fiction concerned with pragmatic and ethical dilemmas posed by social and political change.
Best known for portraying the difficult social position of women, Zhang also addresses the legacy of political trauma, the loneliness of isolated individuals, and the ineptitude and irrationality of various institutions, from factories to hospitals. In her celebrated but controversial story ‘Love Must Not Be Forgotten’ (Ai, shi bu neng wangji de, 1979), Zhang challenged compulsory marriage through a daughter’s reflections on her mother’s unfulfilled love. She won the Mao Dun prize for Heavy Wings (Chenzhong de chibang, 1981), a novel confronting industrial modernization, corruption and personal compromise. Her path-breaking novella ‘The Ark’ (Fangzhou) describes the everyday trials, discrimination and patent harassment endured by three female roommates as they struggle to carry on their lives and professions after a divorce or separation. Published between 1998 and 2001, Zhang’s epic four-volume novel, Without Words (Wuzi), spans the violent twentieth century. Author’s notes help the reader navigate the stream-of-consciousness narration and the frequent shifts in narrative perspective as characters from different walks of life pursue, then assess, their values.
Chong, Woei Lien (1995). ‘The Position of Women in China: A Lecture by Woman Writer Zhang Jie’.
China Information 10.1 (Summer): 51–8.
Muller, Eva (2001). ‘Die Schrifstellerein Zhang Jie: vom grossen politischen Roman zum weilblichen Psychogramm’. In Christina Neder et al. (eds), China in Seinen Biographischen Dimension: Gedenkscrift fur Helmut Martin. Weisbaden: Harrassowitz.
Zhang, Jie (1985). Die Arche. Trans. Nelly Ma. Munich: Frauenoffensive.
——(1987). Leaden Wings. Trans. Gladys Yang. New York: Random House.
——(1989). Heavy Wings. Trans. Howard Goldblatt. New York: Grove Press.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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