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2017 Newman Prize Winner

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE      22 September 2016
CONTACT: OU Institute of US-China Issues, 405/325-3580

NORMAN, OK - An international jury has selected the Shanghai novelist WANG Anyi (王安忆) as the winner of the fifth Newman Prize for Chinese Literature. Professor Wang, who currently teaches at Fudan University, is the second female Newman laureate, and the third from Mainland China.

Sponsored by the University of Oklahoma’s Institute for US-China Issues, the Newman Prize is awarded biennially in recognition of outstanding achievement in prose or poetry that best captures the human condition, and is conferred solely on the basis of literary merit. Any living author writing in Chinese is eligible. A jury of five distinguished literary experts nominated the five candidates last spring and selected the winner in a transparent voting process on September 21, 2016.

Wang Anyi will receive USD $10,000, a commemorative plaque, and a bronze medallion at an academic symposium and award banquet at the University of Oklahoma, Norman, on March 3, 2017. The event will be hosted by Peter Hays Gries, director of the OU Institute for US-China Issues, which seeks to advance mutual trust in US-China relations.

“All five nominees are exceptionally talented and accomplished writers,” said Director Gries. “It is a testament to Wang Anyi’s remarkable literary skills that she emerged the winner after three rounds of positive elimination voting.”

The Newman Prize honors Harold J. and Ruth Newman, whose generous endowment of a chair at the University of Oklahoma enabled the creation of the OU Institute for US-China Issues ten years ago, in 2006. The University of Oklahoma is also home to Chinese Literature Today, World Literature Today, and the Neustadt International Prize for Literature.

While the deliberations were tough, after a process of positive elimination voting Wang Anyi emerged as the winner. Wang Anyi’s nominator, Dai Jinhua (戴锦华, Peking University), writes in her nomination statement: “Over the past thirty or more years, Wang Anyi has continuously transformed her writing and altered her literary directions to produce a spectacular array of works, through which she has created a sort of reality of Chinese-language literature, a city in literature, or even a nation in literature.”

Dai Jinhua nominated Wang’s novel Reality and Fiction as a great work that represents “one means of creating the world”: “It is not only literary writing, but also mega-writing of literature. It is a majestic experiment of literature and genre, and a demonstration and substantiation of theory: from the family to the nation-state, and from literary imagination to the history of ‘imagined community.’”

Wang Anyi (b. 1954) was born in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, but she grew up in Shanghai. Like her mother, writer Ru Zhijuan (1925–1998), Ms. Wang pursued a literary career and in the early 1980s emerged on the Chinese literary scene. Wang is prolific and innovative: she writes consistently about the history intimately intertwined with her personal memories, and she writes profusely about Shanghai. David Der-wei Wang regards Wang Anyi as the successor of haipai (Shanghai-style) literature after the stellar Eileen Chang (张爱玲). Wang’s seminal works are exclusively narratives of Shanghai. Her novel Song of Everlasting Sorrow (Changhenge, 1996) won the Fifth Mao Dun Literature Prize and has been translated into many languages. Her other award-winning novels include Reality and Fiction (Jishi yu xugou, 1993), Fuping (2000), Fierce Heroes Everywhere (Biandi xiaoxiong, 2005), The Age of Enlightenment (Qimeng Shidai, 2007), and Scent of Heaven (Tianxiang, 2011).

Mainland Chinese novelists Mo Yan (莫言) and Han Shaogong (韩少功) won the 2009 and 2011 Newman Prizes for Chinese Literature, respectively. Mo Yan went on to win the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature. Taiwanese poet Yang Mu (楊牧) won the 2013 Newman Prize, and Taiwanese novelist and screenwriter Chu T’ien-wen (朱天文) won the 2015 Newman Prize.

For more information, please visit the Newman Prize homepage:

You can also contact:
- Peter Gries, The University of Oklahoma, 405/325-1962 (US Central Time)
- Ping Zhu, The University of Oklahoma, 405/325-1473 (US Central Time)