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Geling Yan's Biography

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Berlin, Germany
Jan 2008

Geling Yan is one of the most acclaimed contemporary novelists and screenwriters writing in the Chinese language today and a well-established writer in English. Born in Shanghai, she served with the People's Liberation Army (PLA) during the Cultural Revolution, starting at age 12 as a dancer in an entertainment troupe.

After serving for over a decade with the PLA (including tours in Tibet and as a war correspondent during the Sino-Vietnam border conflict), Geling Yan (嚴歌苓)was discharged with a rank equivalent to Lieutenant Colonel. She published her first novel in 1985 and ever since has produced a steady stream of novels, short stories, novellas, essays and scripts. Her best-known novels in English are The Flowers of War, published in the U.S. by Other Press and elsewhere by Random House's Harvill Secker, The Banquet Bug (The Uninvited in its UK edition - written directly in English) and The Lost Daughter of Happiness, (translated by Cathy Silber) both published by Hyperion in the US and Faber & Faber in the UK. She has also published a novella and short story collection called White Snake and Other Stories, translated by Lawrence A. Walker and published by Aunt Lute Books.

Several of Geling Yan's works have been adapted for film, including internationally distributed films Xiu Xiu: The Sent-Down Girl (directed by Joan Chen) and Siao Yu (directed by Sylvia Chang; script co-written by Ang Lee), and Chinese director Zhang Yimou (To Live, Raise the Red Lantern) has made The Flowers of War, a big-budget film based on her work set during the 1937 Rape of Nanking and starring Academy Award winning actor Christian Bale.   She has also written numerous scripts based on her own and other authors' work, both in English and Chinese, including a script for Chinese director Chen Kaige on the classic Peking opera star Mei LanfangGeling Yan is affiliated with both the Chinese Writers' Association of the People's Republic of China (中国作家协会)and Hollywood's Writers' Guild of America.

Geling Yan went to the United States at the end of 1989 for graduate study. She holds a bachelor's degree in literature from Wuhan University and a Master's in Fine Arts in Fiction Writing from Columbia College, Chicago. To date she has published over 20 books in various editions in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the US, the UK and elsewhere; has won around 30 literary and film awards; and has had her work adapted or written scripts for over a dozen film, TV and radio works. Her works have been translated into fifteen languages: Czech, Dutch, English, French, German, Hebrew,  Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish, Thai and Vietnamese, and her English-language novel The Banquet Bug/The Uninvited was translated into Chinese.

Links:   Chinese bio 作者简介   Publicity Photos   Film, TV and Radio Works Video Profile (Chinese)  TV Interview (English) Comprehensive vita


Saul Bellow, Milan Kundera, Vladimir Nabokov, Flannery O'Connor, Romain Rolland, Gabriel García Márquez, Cao Xueqing.

Upcoming Works

The Flowers of War (translation of 金陵十三钗 and basis of eponymous film), to be published in English (US and UK editions), and in Dutch, French, German, Italian, Korean, Spanish, and Vietnamese. La Nona Vedova (The Ninth Widow, Italian edition)


Peony Literary Agency (for non-Chinese-language literary works) Beijing Meileyuan Film and TV Group (film and TV deals in China)

Recommended Links


Hyperion, Faber and Faber, The Other Press, Random House and Aunt Lute Books for English, plus various foreign language editions.