Jia Pingwa is a formidable cultural figure in China, where he is widely regarded as one of the most important writers of his generation. Born in 1953, his early stories dealt with the countryside around his home city Shangluo in the Shaanxi region. In the 1990s, however, his novels, short stories, poetry and non-fiction became more overtly political, outspoken and challenging to the prevalent climate of censorship, leading to his 1993 novel The Abandoned Capital (also known in English as Ruined City) being banned for 17 years by the State Publishing Administration, ostensibly for explicit sexual content.
As his writing became more confrontational, his audience grew exponentially. He also gained critical acclaim from the literary establishment, including winning the Mao Dun Literary Prize, one of the most prestigious writing awards in China, for Shaanxi Opera in 2008. Aside from writing, he is a talented professional calligrapher and artist.
In 2018, Valley Press published a translation of his 1996 novel Tu Men (The Earthen Gate), as part of our 'Shaanxi Stories' series celebrating the writers of that region, in collaboration with Northwest University, Xi’an.
‘From that moment onwards, the dog and I both found ourselves incapable of ever cherishing a sense of belonging.’
Constantly bickering with her shallow friend Brow, beginning correspondence courses she will never finish, helping sage-like Grandpa Cloud Forest with his mystical healing and stealthily avoiding matrimony with her less-than-impressive fiancé Old Ran, Plum’s life appears to be puttering along what seems like a tediously predictable path. But when the village home she cherishes comes under threat from big city capitalists, she finds herself thrust into a series of adventures with a mercurial rogue called Chivalry.
Jia Pingwa’s The Earthen Gate was an instant bestseller in his native China and now looks set to make waves in its first-ever English translation, two decades later. This raucous, and at times achingly poignant tale combines earthy humour, ancient wisdom and thrilling action to highlight the impact of creeping urbanisation on traditional country folk.
This book is part of Shaanxi Stories, a series of translated works by acclaimed authors from the Shaanxi province of China, produced by Valley Press in collaboration with Northwest University, Xi’an. The series editors are Hu Zongfeng and Robin Gilbank.
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