Zhou Li

Zhou Li
b. 1950, Shanghai
Zhou Li’s autobiography, A Chinese Woman in Manhattan (Manhadun de zhongguo nüren, 1992), is one of the bestselling examples from the 1990s of ‘overseas student literature’, a genre which also includes Cao Guilin’s Beijingren zai niuyue, Chen Yanni’s Gaosu ni yige zhen meiguo, Qian Ning’s Liuxue meiguo and Tang Ying’s Meiguo laide qizi. The first chapter of the book was first published in the renowned literary journal October (Shiyue) in early 1992.
The book was published by the Beijing Press in July. Unlike other overseas student literature, which focuses on life experiences abroad, Zhou Li combines her memories of growing up in the Mao era with her overseas experiences in America, whereby the strong-willed former Red Guard turned out to be a successful New York businesswoman. Zhou Li depicts America as a land of opportunity, open to anyone with determination, courage and innovation, willing to break through conventional barriers. Despite the minute biographical details of her life in Maoist and early post-Maoist China and many personal observations of American society and culture, the large and most significant portion of the book is devoted to reflections on the taste and fate of Mao-era intellectuals, who are represented by the three men she fell in love with during her adolescent and young-adult years—a university teacher, a painter and an amateur musician. These personal random reflections convey to us a faithful picture of the elite cultural configuration of the Mao era, and Zhou Li’s book can be recommended as a useful resource for studying the period.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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