Ge Liang, male, born in 1978. Originally from Nanjing, he now lives in Hong Kong. Received his PhD in Chinese from Hong Kong University. Currently an associate professor at Hong Kong Baptist University. A Hong Kong member of the Chinese Writers Association. His works have been published in Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. He has written the novels Northern Kite (Bei Yuan), The Vermilion Bird (Zhu Que), Seven Tones (Qi Sheng), The Year of the Drama (Xi Nian), Enigma (Mi Ya), and Raccoon (Huan Xiong); as well as the cultural essays Painting Colors (Hui Se) and Small Mountains and Rivers (Xiao Shan He). His novels The Vermilion Bird and The Northern Kite were included among Yazhou Zhoukan’s list of “Top Ten Chinese Language Novels.” He received the 2016 “Great Books of China” award, a special prize from the review committee for the 2016 “Great Chinese-Language Book” award, the Top 5 Novels of 2016 award, the “Chinese Individual of 2016” award from Southern People Weekly, the “Writer of the Year” award from GQ China in 2017, the 2017 Writer of the Year Award from the CCTV program Two Shores (Hai Xia Liang An), the inaugural Hong Kong Book Award, and the Hong Kong Award for Artistic Development.
David Der-wei Wang, professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures at Harvard University, has called Ge Liang “one of the most anticipated contemporary Chinese-language novelists.” Media outlets have critiqued his writing as “calm, elegant, vividly coherent and scholarly in flavor; filled with calm curiosity for reality and history.” In his novels The Northern Kite and The Vermilion Bird, Ge Liang’s persisting patience, as well as his restriction and restraint in his prose, is akin to that of an austere scholar. He is also a writer with great narrative ambitions. With his dual perspective as both an insider and an outsider, his profound examination of history has made him a model to follow among young writers.
In 2009, Ge Liang completed The Vermilion Bird, a novel in his representative “Books of the North and South” (Nan Bei Shu) series of novels. The story begins at the dawn of the new millennium, when Scottish-Chinese youth Xu Tingmai studies abroad in his father’s home city of Nanjing. He meets a mysterious girl named Cheng Nan along the banks of the Qinhuai River, and from this, a legend spanning three generations begins. Ge Liang exhibits his considerable creativity in this vigorous and imposing tale about the modern history of Nanjing, China’s ancient capital. The book calls to mind Mo Yan’s work Red Sorghum.
Published seven years after The Vermilion Bird, The Northern Kite is the second entry in the author’s “Books of the North and South” series, which depicts modern Chinese history and the country’s rise and fall. The novel opens in the 1920s, and follows the growth of its protagonist Lu Wensheng. With two families at its center—the Lu clan, a prosperous merchant family in Xiangcheng county, Henan; and the declining gentry family, the Fengs—the novel depicts China’s most volatile period of wealth. While ostensibly the story of two families as a pretense, Ge Liang also depicts the daily lives of intellectuals, merchants, actors, and ordinary people; his profound and realistic style depicts the fluctuating fates of these two households caught in the ripples of history. Written with a markedly ornate and refined technique, The Northern Kite has been praised as “a tour de force of new classicism” in the world of contemporary Chinese writing. The People’s Daily wrote, “This novel is painted from the palette of the classic piece Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains and the boundlessness of Along the River During the Qingming Festival. Despite its simple elegance and easy pace, it is a stirring read. The critic Professor Huang Ziping opined, “Ge Liang has created a literary narrative language that is classical and modern all at the same time. With a style both elegant and meticulous, he depicts city life with charming and picturesque disorder and portrays the trends of the time with assuredness, achieving a lyrical aesthetic that is all his own.” According to Nobel Prize-winning author Mo Yan, “Ge Liang consciously inherits the Chinese novel’s traditions, linguistic vigor, and proprietary coyness. The most resplendent slice of traditional Chinese culture emerges within the characters of Northern Kite.”