Jiang Zilong

The father of China’s ‘reform literature’

Jiang Zilong was born in 1941 in Hebei province, northeast China, and spent his formative years in the countryside before moving to the city of Tianjin at the age of 14. He served an apprenticeship at a machine tool factory and then joined the navy in 1962. From 1965 to 1982, he worked at a factory in Tianjin, rising to the ranks of senior management and publishing his first written works on the side. He has been a full-time author since leaving the factory and became known as the founder of ‘Reform literature’, which deals with the policy of reform and opening up that was initiated by Deng Xiaoping following the death of Mao Zedong. Many of Jiang’s stories are set in the industrial world and examine the impact that the seismic socio-economic changes have had on the lives of ordinary Chinese citizens. His works have won national literary awards many times and been translated into multiple languages including English, French, German, Russian, Japanese and Spanish.

‘But what gives Empires of Dust its own claim on greatness is how Jiang shuttles between the panoramic and the intimately human.’

James Kidd – South China Morning Post