Award-Winning Chinese Authors who Launched Books in 2020

Many Chinese writers have done their country proud with their achievements in the literary world. The year 2020 was no different.

Here are some notable award-winning Chinese authors who released new novels in 2020:

1. Charles Yu, author of Interior Chinatown 

In 2007, Charles Yu was a “5 under 35” honoree by the National Book Foundation, wherein five previous National Book Award Fiction Winners and Finalists selected one next generation fiction writer under the age of 35 whose work they find “promising and exciting.”

His second novel, Interior Chinatown, won the 2020 National Book Award for Fiction, even making the Long List of the 2021 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Non-fiction. In this book, Yu weaves the tale of Willis Wu, the “Generic Asian Man,” that doesn’t perceive himself as the protagonist of his own life. Interior Chinatown, written in a screenplay format is considered to be the author’s “personal novel about race, pop culture, immigration, assimilation, and escaping the roles we are forced to play.”

2. Marie Lu, author of The Kingdom of Back and Skyhunter

Marie Lu (born Xiwei Lu) is a #1 New York Times Bestselling Young Adult author, well-known for her dystopian series, Legend. She graduated from the University of Southern California, and before becoming a full-time writer, she interned at Disney Interactive Studios and was an Art Director at Online Alchemy, a video game company. She is also the writer of the Batman Nightwalker in the DC Icons series. 

Lu released two novels this year, namely The Kingdom of Back and Skyhunter. The Kingdom of Back is Lu’s first historical young adult fantasy novel that centers on the older sister of the legendary composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Nannerl Mozart, a musical prodigy who aims to be remembered by the world for her music. Meanwhile, Skyhunter is the first book of a new series, featuring another dystopian story by Lu. It’s set 5,000 years in the future in what she describes as a “regressed society.”

3. Yan Lianke, author of Three Brothers: Memories of My Family

Yan Lianke is a novelist and short story writer who is based in Beijing. He features highly satirical themes in his works, which led to his books being banned in China and making him one of the most controversial Chinese writers. His notable awards include the Lu Xun Literary Prize and Franz Kafka Prize. 

This year, Lianke published a biography titled, Three Brothers: Memories of My Family that details his early life in Henan Province during the 1960s and ’70s Cultural Revolution. It also features his family’s experiences during that time, centering on his father’s two brothers and their trials in their daily lives.

4. Meng Jin, author of Little Gods

Meng Jin is a newly published author who finished her MFA from Hunter College and received a David TK Wong Fellowship at the University of East Anglia. Her narrative prose has appeared in Vogue, the Threepenny Review, Ploughshares, The Bare Life Review, and soon, in Best American Short Stories 2020.

Meng Jin’s 2020 debut novel, Little Gods, unravels the story of 17-year-old Liya. Her mother, whom she barely knows, mysteriously dies when she is away at school. On her way to China, she is compelled to learn more about the life of her mother.

5. Xiaolu Guo, author of A Lover’s Discourse 

In 2013, Xiaolu Guo was named as one of Granta magazine’s Best of Young British Novelists, a list drawn up only once a decade. She is a known novelist, memorist, and film-maker in the United Kingdom. She is currently a writer in the Residence of East Asian Department at Columbia University and a Visiting Professor at Baruch College in New York City. 

Her 2020 novel, A Lover’s Discourse, is told from a Chinese woman’s perspective about forming a relationship with a German man during her stay in Britain.

6. An Yu, author of Braised Pork

An Yu is a newly published author who grew up and currently resides in Beijing. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from New York University while writing fictional stories in English and finishing her first novel titled, Braised Pork. Her short stories have become finalists for the Short Story Award For New Writers from Glimmer Train and the Annual Contest from Dogwood Journal. 

Her debut novel, Braised Pork, tells the story of a young woman named, Jia Jia, who embarks on a mystery that is connected to her husband’s death in modern metropolitan China.

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