Study Guide

Zhang Jie

Zhang Jie Biography

Biography (Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Zhang Jie (jong jay) is the best-known contemporary Chinese woman writer. Her first novel, Heavy Wings, won the Mao Dun National Award for Novels in 1985 (an award granted once every three years); it has been translated and published in Germany, France, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Holland, Great Britain, United States, Spain, Brazil, and Russia. Since 1978, she has published numerous stories and won various prizes. Two collections of her stories, Love Must Not Be Forgotten and As Long as Nothing Happens, Nothing Will, are widely studied in European and American college classrooms. As Long as Nothing Happens, Nothing Will won the Italian Malaparte Literary Prize, an honor also accorded such well-known Western writers as Anthony Burgess and Saul Bellow.

Zhang was born in 1937. During World War II, her father left the family, and her mother, a teacher, brought her up in a village in Liaoning Province. From childhood she showed a strong interest in music and literature. After graduating from the People’s University of Beijing in 1960, she was assigned to one of the industrial ministries. Her novella Heavy Wings and short story “Today’s Agenda” benefit from her acquaintance with industrial management and bureaucracy. Later Zhang transferred to the Beijing Film Studio, where she wrote film scripts. She started to write fiction at the age of forty, near the end of the Cultural Revolution, and in 1978 her story “The Music of the Forest” won a prize as one of the best short stories of the year. In 1979 she won another national short-story award for “Who Lives a Better Life”; “Love Must Not Be Forgotten” also became a widely read and controversial story. In 1985 she reached the climax of her literary career by winning the Mao Dun National Novel...

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Zhang Jie Biography (Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Zhang Jie was born in Beijing, China, on April 27, 1937. During the War of Resistance against Japan, her father left, and her mother, a teacher, brought her up in a village in the province of Liaoning. From childhood, she showed a strong interest in music and literature, but she was encouraged to study economics in order to be of greater use to the new China. After she was graduated from the People’s University of Beijing in 1960, she was assigned to one of the industrial ministries. Her novel Heavy Wings and the short story “Today’s Agenda” definitely benefit from her acquaintance with industrial management and bureaucracy. Later, Zhang transferred to the Beijing Film Studio, where she wrote the screenplays The Search and We Are Still Young. She started to write fiction at the age of forty, which coincided with the end of the Cultural Revolution. In 1978, her story “The Music of the Forest” won a prize as one of the best short stories of the year. In 1979, she won the Chinese national short-story award again for “Who Lives a Better Life.” Meanwhile, her story “Love Must Not Be Forgotten” became widely read and controversial. With the success of her stories, Zhang became a full-time fiction writer. In 1985, she reached the climax of her literary career by winning the Maodun National Award for Heavy Wings and the National Novella Award for “Emerald.” Zhang, who actively participates in international creative activities, has traveled to West Germany and the United States and was a visiting professor at Wesleyan University from 1989 to 1990. She has been a council member of the Chinese Writers’...

(The entire section is 679 words.)