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Tiananmen Fictions outside the Square

The Chinese Literary Diaspora and the Politics of Global Culture

Belinda Kong

Publication Year: 2012

An exciting analysis of the myriad literary effects of Tiananmen, Belinda Kong's Tiananmen Fictions Outside the Square is the first full-length study of fictions related to the 1989 movement and massacre. More than any other episode in recent world history, Tiananmen has brought a distinctly politicized Chinese literary diaspora into stark relief.

Kong redefines Tiananmen's meaning from an event that ended in local political failure to one that succeeded in producing a vital dimension of contemporary transnational writing today. She spotlights key writers-Gao Xingjian, Ha Jin, Annie Wang, and Ma Jian-who have written and published about the massacre from abroad. Their outsider/distanced perspectives inform their work, and reveal how diaspora writers continually reimagine Tiananmen's relevance to the post-1989 world at large.

Compelling us to think about how Chinese culture, identity, and politics are being defined in the diaspora, Tiananmen Fictions Outside the Square candidly addresses issues of political exile, historical trauma, global capital, and state biopower.

Published by: Temple University Press

Title Page, Copyright, Further Reading

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

In book time, this work is more a young adult than a newborn, and it owes its origins, growth, and personality to a whole network and history of influential figures. I want to first thank my family, James and Yong Wilshire, for their support of my academic pursuits throughout the years, however remote academe may strike them at times. ...

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Introduction: Tiananmen in Diaspora and in Fiction

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pp. 1-34

In our memories of Tiananmen, two images of power square off. Hannah Arendt, countering Mao Zedong two decades prior, as much as foresaw this. While Mao maintained that “power grows out of the barrel of a gun,” Arendt optimistically proposed that true power “always stands in need of numbers” and resides in the “living power of the people” (On Violence 41–42). ...

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1. The Existentialist Square: Gao Xingjian’s Taowang

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pp. 35-85

Of the four writers in this book, Gao Xingjian is not only the oldest and the longest established but also the one with the most complicated reception history. Born in 1940, he is the only author here to have grown up in pre-communist China, in an environment where his early interests in Western literature, art, and music were safely encouraged. ...

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2. The Aporetic Square: Ha Jin’s The Crazed

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pp. 86-135

Ha Jin, the pen name of Jin Xuefei, is perhaps best known today for his numerous prestigious awards in the U.S. literary arena over the past dozen years. He is popularly thought of as an émigré Chinese writer who has “made it” in America, someone who came to the vocation of creative writing relatively late in life ...

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3. The Globalized Square: Annie Wang’s Lili

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pp. 136-183

Among the authors examined in this book, Annie Wang is an anomaly. She is the only one who currently lives both inside and outside of mainland China: leaving in 1993 to study journalism at the University of California at Berkeley, she has since moved back, first to her native Beijing in 1999, then relocating to Shanghai in 2004, ...

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4. The Biopolitical Square: Ma Jian’s Beijing Coma

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pp. 184-236

With Ma Jian’s Beijing Coma (2008), Tiananmen receives its fullest treatment in literature to date—as at once history and myth. Of all extant Tiananmen fictions, this is the work that stays closest to social history, minutely tracking the rise and fall of the student pro-democracy movement; ...

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Conclusion: The Square Comes Full Circle

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pp. 237-248

Among Tiananmen’s many revelations is that historical imagination may not always be literal. It may accrete through accidental suggestions and rumors, even inventions and errors, as much as facts. As George Black and Robin Munro justly put it, the term “Tiananmen Square Massacre” has firmly entered into the “political vocabulary of the late twentieth century,” ...


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pp. 249-256


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pp. 257-274


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pp. 275-278

Abou the Author

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E-ISBN-13: 9781439907603
Print-ISBN-13: 9781439907597

Page Count: 292
Illustrations: 1
Publication Year: 2012