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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