First Woman Leads Chinese Writers Association

Text by Yin Xing
Tie Ning surrounded by fans. by Yang Shiyao/Xinhua

On November 12, 2006, Tie Ning, 49, was formally elected to the post of Chairwoman of the Chinese Writers Association (CWA). Younger than her two predecessors when they assumed the leadership role, Mao Dun, then 53, and Ba Jin, then 80, Tie Ning’s age and gender marks a change in the traditional image of CWA.

“Mao Dun and Ba Jin, are great masters who are rather the spiritual embodiment of Chinese literature. However, Tie Ning, young and energetic, can serve Chinese writers in promoting the development of Chinese literature,”says Hai Yan, a popular writer and CWA member.

“Tie Ning’s entrance to CWA represents the rejuvenation of our group and common recognition of the capacity of China's women,” remarked Ge Jing, 28, the youngest representative of the 7th Congress of CWA.

Born in 1957, the daughter of scholarly parents, from the time she learned to read Tie Ning’s passion for literature grew. In 1975, with the dream of becoming an outstanding writer, Tie Ning gave up her comfortable city life and relocated to BoyeCounty in HebeiProvince. During this time it was commonly thought by the literary elite that one must truly experience rural life to become a real writer. Indeed, the hardship and poverty of the country life built up Tie Ning’s optimistic attitude to life and literature.

In June, 2005, Tie Ning in front of the former site of the Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts. by Ding Haitao/Xinhua

“Pruning cotton plants once resulted in 12 blisters on my hands, but even the toughened rural children could keep at the hard work and get no blisters. Then I can imagine what they have suffered. So in my writing I try to avoid piling on the agony while being sanguine. My positive approach roots in that period of rural life.”

Tie Ning did not make a name for herself until her work Oh, Xiang Xue (the name of the heroine) won the Excellent Short Story Award in 1982. To analyze their mentality, reflect their aspiration and mirror their loss and self-redemption, Tie Ning is expert in depicting ordinary female characters. A woman who writes about other women, Tine Ning remains neutral, objective and sober. “I hope I can reach the realm of neutral perspective to transcend my biological sex,”she says.

“As a male reader, I appreciate Tie Ning’s work very much. Her letters convey intellectual analysis and vigorousness which are seldom found in female writers’ works. Her concept of value stands for what people of this era should surely consider. It is a special pleasure to read her stories,” Yuke Zhushi comments on the Internet.

Since the 1980s, Tie Ning has maintained a high level of production, winning three national Short & Medium-length Novel Awards and two successive Lu Xun Literature Awards. Five volumes of the Collected Works of Tie Ning, three long novels and more than 20 of her short stories have been published and translated into dozens of languages.

“Tie Ning’s work never breaks away from reality, for she always keeps her eyes on both urban and rural life and goes to mountainous area for inspiration every year. She respects literature and dedicates herself to her writing,” her colleague Liu Xiaofang says.

Tie Ning now fulfils two positions, as a professional writer and the head of CWA. Traditional writers have sometimes been unruly and even rebellious, thinking it beneath them to associate with officers. However, “I would like to be an officer in order to help other writers, young or old,” she says, “My writing comes from the bottom of my heart. No matter where I am in life, I will always respect literature.”

At the press conference upon publication of Tie Ning's long novel, Local Cotton. CFP

About Tie Ning

1957-Born in Zhao County, Hebei Province.

1975-Graduated from Senior High School of BaodingCity of HebeiProvince. Her first novel, Flying Sickle, was among the Collected Works of Children¡¯s Literature published by Beijing Publishing House.

1979-1984-Worked as a novel editor in the editorial department of the magazine, Hua Shan.

1982-Her novel, Oh, Xiang Xue, won the Excellent Short Story Award and she became nationally known among literary circles.

1984-Her short novel, Topic of June, was published and adapted into a TV series. Transferred into the Federation of Literary and Art Circles of Hebei Province, she became a truly professional writer.

1985-The adapted movie, Lady in Red, inspired by her novel Red Blouse without Buttons, won the Best Feature Award of Golden Rooster Film Awards of China.

1985-2006-She successively assumed the positions of vice president of the Federation of Literary and Art Circles of Hebei Province, Deputy Chairwoman of CWA and Alternate Member of the Central Committee.

December 12, 2006-Tie Ning is elected chairwoman of CAW.

Her representative works include Woman in Bath, How Long is Eternity, and The 12th Eve.