A Walk of the Wild Side with Shanghai Gen X Writer Mian Mian

Wednesday, January 28, 2004
4:15 PM - 5:30 PM
Philippines Conference Room
  • Mian Mian,
  • Pamela Yatsko

Born in Shanghai in 1970, Mian Mian first began writing at the age of sixteen. She dropped out secondary school in Shanghai in 1987 and two years later went on her own to Shenzhen, a boomtown in the southern province of Guangdong. She spent five years there delving into society's seedier side before returning to Shanghai, where she continues to reside.

After Mian Mian came home to Shanghai, she started writing again, and by 1997 her short stories and novellas were appearing in Xiaoshuo Jie (Fiction World) and several other widely circulated Chinese literary magazines. The milieu depicted in Mian Mian's work is drawn from her life experience, and many of her fictional characters are also inspired by the subculture she moved in, a subculture peopled by aspiring singers, drug addicts, prostitutes, homosexuals, gangsters, the mentally ill, slackers, and self-proclaimed artists. She became the first Chinese writer to describe drugs. Her style, characteristic of "cruel youth" and her simultaneously hip and introspective attitude toward self-reflection quickly attracted a large following of young readers. In July 1997, with the backing of the New Century Publishing House in Hong Kong, Mian Mian published her first collection of short stories, La La La. Mian Mian's first novel, Tang (Candy), was published simultaneously by Zhongguo Xiju Publishing House and the prestigious literary magazine Shouhuo (Harvest) in January 2000. This novel created a stir in China's literary world and quickly became a bestseller, with a large number of pirated copies produced and sold throughout the country. The publication of Candy was soon followed by the publication of two more collections of short stories, Every Good Child Deserves Candy (Huashan Publishers) and Acid Lover (Shanghai Sanlian Publishing House). In April 2000, the Chinese government banned Candy. Shortly thereafter, the rest of Mian Mian's books were also banned.

Candy has been translated into English, French, Spanish, Greek, Japanese, Dutch and Portuguese. La La La has been translated into German and Italian.

In addition to writing, Mian Mian is also a music promoter, and the only female dance party organizer in China. Following on her experience working as a DJ at Shanghai's Cotton Club in 1996, Mian Mian began bringing rock shows and DJs into clubs in a number of Chinese cities starting in 1997. She has planned numerous large-scale dance parties, where internationally renowned DJs have performed. Her most successful parties include two parties with Paul Oakenfold -- inShanghai in 1999 and at the Great Wall in 2003 -- as well as the Red Age Club party in Chengdu in 2002, a seven-day-long party where the biggest Chinese DJs performed.

In 2002, after the ban on her writing was removed, Mian Mian published Social Dance, a collection taken for the column she writes for the Hong Kong independent newspaper, Apple Daily. At that time, she also signed with the Modern Sky Record Company as her Chinese Agent. In 2003, Mian Mian started to write a column for several famous fashion magazines, marking a departure from her previous policy of shunning the mainstream media. The column focuses on personal issues, such as love relationships and ways of fighting depression. Mian Mian also wrote the screenplay and acted in the film Shanghai Panic which showed in a number of international film festivals.

This program is part of the Winter Colloquium Series, "Globalizing Asian Cultures."