Wang, Annie 1972-
WANG, Annie 1972-
Born Rui Wang, 1972, in Beijing, China; immigrated to United States, 1993, naturalized citizen, 2000; daughter of a newspaper editor and an author. Ethnicity: "Chinese." Education: Graduated from University of California, Berkeley, 1996.
Writer. Worked at Washington Post Beijing bureau, Beijing, China; U.S. State Department, contract interpreter. Cofounder, with sisters Wei Wang and Fei Wang, of Chinese Culture Net, San Francisco, CA, 1997—.
Lili: A Novel of Tiananmen, edited by Dan Frank, Pantheon Books (New York, NY), 2001.
Contributor to periodicals, including the South China Morning Post, Time (Asia), and Washington Post; author of books published in China.
Annie Wang left China in 1993 to study at the University of California at Berkeley and later took a position as a contract interpreter for the U.S. State Department, a move that helped her become a United States citizen in 2000. The following year she published Lili: A Novel of Tiananmen, set around the massacre of prodemocracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square in 1989. Wang acknowledges that the book is an emotional, rather than a political, view of the events of that period. A Publishers Weekly contributor said her version, "at once convincing and utterly foreign, both attracts and terrifies." Wang lives in Hong Kong and San Francisco, and has previously published a number of books in China.
Wang grew up a member of the privileged class of the Chinese Communist Party. In 1989, as a sixteen-year-old academic prodigy, she was named one of China's ten outstanding students. Wang hosted radio shows for teens, wrote, and dreamed of studying in the United States. Her father was a newspaper editor, and she enjoyed capitalist luxuries such as telephones, movies, and books, some of which were banned and inaccessible to the majority of the people. Thomas Crampton wrote in the International Herald Tribune that "to evade rules prohibiting Chinese from entering Beijing's luxury hotels, Wang and her autograph-seeking teenage friends hid outside the entrance in a senior official's borrowed Mercedes, waiting for foreign musicians to greet fans. Many of Wang's friends cashed in their connections for the wealth and power brought by joining investment banks like Morgan Stanley. Wang, however, turned to writing."
Wang's novel was born on a May day in 1989, as she pedaled her bicycle through Tiananmen Square, and it took her ten years to complete. "The result," wrote Sorina Diaconescu of the Los Angeles Times, "is a kaleidoscopic view of 1980s China, seen through the eyes of Lili, a street-smart heroine who turns tricks on the sidewalks of Beijing as an easy fix to boredom." Booklist's Elsa Gaztambide described Lili as "brimming with angst and rebellion, as refreshing as she is disagreeable."
Lili is arrested for "hooliganism" and sentenced to three months of re-education in the country. After she is raped by a party official, she runs away and returns to the city, where she lives on the edge, in a world populated by gangs and filled with violence. Lili brings further humiliation on her family by falling in love with a Chinese-speaking American journalist named Roy, who takes her along as he travels across China. It is then that Lili begins to understand her country, as she compares the lives of poor villagers and the lush accommodations of foreign diplomats and businessmen. Like Wang, Lili witnesses the student revolt and massacre by the People's Liberation Army in Tiananmen Square. In a Library Journal review, Shirley N. Quan called Wang's writing "clear, full of imagery" and noted that "she describes the oppression of free-spirited and free-thinking women in China." Diaconescu wrote that "the narrative hopscotches in a series of snapshots capturing the poverty and indignity of China's provincial backwaters, the snug comforts party officials enjoy, the materialism of a new urban generation, and the tension between Chinese values and the transplanted cultural heritage of the West."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, May 1, 2001, Elsa Gaztambide, review of Lili: A Novel of Tiananmen, p. 1669.
Economist, August 11, 2001, review of Lili, p. 73.
International Herald Tribune, June 5, 2001, Thomas Crampton, "A Novel of Sex, Violence, and Tiananmen Square."
Library Journal, June 1, 2001, Shirley N. Quan, review of Lili, p. 219.
Los Angeles Times, June 21, 2001, Sorina Diaconescu, "A Kaleidoscopic View of China from a Street-smart Whiz Kid," p. E1.
Ms., October-November, 2001, Mai Hoang, review of Lili, p. 71.
Publishers Weekly, June 11, 2001, review of Lili, p. 58.
Times Literary Supplement, February 22, 2002, Frances Wood, "An Untamed Soul," p. 23.
Washington Post Book World, July 22, 2001, Lisa See, "Interesting Times," p. T04.