Beijing Women: Stories
176pp. October 2013
Beijing Women: Stories
Author: Wang Yuan; Translator: Kong, Shuyu; Hawes, Colin S.;
Beijing Women presents four short stories: “Lipstick,” “Qipao,” “Ginger,” and “Beijing Women”—stories about how contemporary Chinese women must learn to survive in China’s new market economy, and their inner struggles in a society full of moral ambiguity. These women come to Beijing to “advance themselves” or leave Beijing for the coastal economic zone of Hainan to explore new opportunities. They make their living in various ways: working as PR girls (a common euphemism for hostesses or escorts), as popular singers, waitresses, or private business owners—all professions that women in Maoist times had seldom heard about, but have had to adapt to in today’s consumer society.

At a deeper level, these stories are about much more than just women’s lives and careers. Beijing here is a synecdoche for China, whose march toward capitalism at breakneck speed has changed peoples’ relationships profoundly. Stress, suspicion, anxiety, and exploitation make interpersonal communication and compassion difficult, and the constant competition for material gain tears apart the fabric of a society which, despite its faults, was at least rooted in traditional ethics and socialist idealism. This social and moral crisis is poignantly reflected in these stories.

Distributed for MerwinAsia
“Wang Yuan reveals the moral and spiritual complexities hidden within the mundane daily dramas of women’s lives in a huge metropolis . . . It is the ambiguity and fragility of individuals that makes her stories so memorable, captured from a unique women’s point of view.” —Dai Jinhua, Professor and critic, Peking University

“Here in four bittersweet stories is twenty-first century urban China, as it is lived by those on the margins of the new prosperity. In a landscape of colleges, night-clubs, taxis, and diners, it is everyone for him-, or more importantly herself in the competition for survival and success. This is sensitive and equivocal writing, elegantly translated, presenting the insecure lives of today’s Beijing women.” —Richard King, Professor, Department of Pacific and Asian Studies, University of Victoria.

“Wang Yuan is an important contemporary novelist, short story writer and essayist whose writings offer us powerfully sensitive insights from a woman's perspective into the tensions and conflicts that inevitably emerge when political, economic and social systems undergo dramatic changes. Shuyu Kong and Colin Hawes offer us the best kind of accurate translations: they don't read like translations. These stories are insightful, enjoyable reads.” —Dr. Jan W. Walls, Professor Emeritus in Humanities, Simon Fraser University
Author: Wang Yuan; Translator: Kong, Shuyu; Hawes, Colin S.;
Wang Yuan has published three novels, one collection of short stories, and one prose collection, and her works were nominated for the prestigious Lu Xun literary Prize in 1999. A contracted writer of Beijing Writers’ Association, she is currently living in Beijing and Los Angles.

Shuyu Kong teaches at Simon Fraser University.

Colin Hawes teaches Chinese and corporate law at the University of Technology Sydney.