Pamela Hunt’s book, Rebel Men: Masculinity and Attitude in Postsocialist Chinese Literature, has been published by Hong Kong University Press.
Masculinity, fast-changing and regularly declared to be in the throes of crisis, is attracting more popular and scholarly debate in China than ever before. At the same time, Chinese literature since 1989 has been characterized as brimming with countercultural ‘attitude’. This book probes the link between literary rebellion and manhood in China, showing how, as male writers critique the outcomes of decades of market reform, they also ask the same question: how best to be a man in the new postsocialist order?
In this first full-length discussion of masculinity in post-1989 Chinese literature, Pamela Hunt offers a detailed analysis of four contemporary authors in particular: Zhu Wen, Feng Tang, Xu Zechen and Han Han. In a series of insightful readings, she explores how all four writers show the same preoccupation with the figure of the man on the edges of society. Drawing on longstanding Chinese and global models of maverick, as well as marginal masculinity, and responding to a desire to retain a measure of masculine authority, their characters all engage in forms of transgression that still rely heavily on heteronormative and patriarchal values. Rebel Men argues that masculinity, so often overlooked in literary analysis of contemporary China, continues to be renegotiated, debated and agonized over, and is ultimately reconstructed as more powerful than before