Essays and fiction from China with a “hairy” voice: like a woman’s unshaven underarm, the choice metaphor for my writing, disturbing and distressing in its alluring authenticity, exposing a primal scene in every nook and cranny, holding nothing sacred and everything with equal interest, seeking the voluptuousness in chaos.
I am an American writer based in China, where I have lived on and off for most of the past 18 years. Formerly a teacher of literature, Shakespeare, the history of the English language, linguistics, pragmatics, critical discourse analysis, semiotics and critical theory, I finally came back full circle to my true love and vocation: literature. But instead of teaching it, I have decided I can do a better job at creating it and am henceforth devoting my career to the novel (literary, speculative, satirical, dystopian) and the essay. And by “essay” I mean the essay as opposed to the “article”; the essay proper suits me because it fails to fit into preconceived categories but is by its very nature disturbing to those who seek to be reassured by the conventional pieties of the article.
My writing philosophy. “Literary fiction” is a broad and ambiguous category, but in the realm of contemporary publishing it is increasingly being defined in the narrowest of terms – “upmarket,” “high concept,” “with commercial appeal” being typical catchwords. These criteria indicate a compromise between literary fiction and genre fiction: “literary” with mass market prospects and therefore adhering to certain formulaic constraints geared to profitability (the first page that “grabs” you, the compelling storyline, heart-wrenching sympathetic characters, and the like). I would describe my writing, by contrast, as downmarket (as in downstage), big concept and with discriminating appeal. While I seek to cultivate an original voice, Ballard, Beckett, Borges, Dick, Kafka, Hesse, Melville, Mishima and Sade are influences.
The heading of my website shows a detail from a nude by the painter, calligrapher and sculptor Qian Shaowu.