Liu Zhenyun, one of China’s best-known authors and screenwriters, was born in 1958 in Yanjin County, Henan Province, where he grew up in a rural village. Many rural youths at that time saw military service as their only way of getting out of the countryside, so Liu joined the military between the ages of 15 and 20, after which he briefly taught in a middle school. In 1978, after the end of the Cultural Revolution, he was accepted to the Chinese department of Peking University. After his graduation in 1982 he began work as a journalist at the Farmer’s Daily, and it was during this time that he first began to write fiction.
By the mid-1980s, Liu began publishing short stories and novellas, many of which are now classics of contemporary literature, including Tofu; College; Office; Officials; Recruits; and Remembering 1942. Later novels, such as Cellphone; The Cook, the Crook, and the Real Estate Tycoon; Nonsense Talk; Someone To Talk To; I Did Not Kill My Husband; and Strange Bedfellows have become critically-acclaimed prize-winners as well as best-sellers among readers. His numerous awards include China’s highest literary honor, the Mao Dun Literature Prize (2011), and France’s Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters (2018). His works have been translated into a number of languages including English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Swedish, Dutch, Russian, Czech, Hungarian, Romanian, Serbian, Hebrew, Arabic, Turkish, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Thai.
To date, over 15 million copies of Liu’s works have been sold in China, and more of his fiction has been adapted for the screen than that of any other major Chinese author. Four of his works have been made into films directed by renowned director Feng Xiaogang: Tofu; Cellphone; Back to 1942 (adapted from Remembering 1942 ); and I Am Not Madame Bovary (adapted from I Did Not Kill My Husband ). In 2016, Liu’s daughter, Liu Yulin, directed an adaptation of Someone To Talk To; as a result, the Chinese media dubbed November 2016 “Liu Zhenyun Month.” Liu personally writes the screenplays for all adaptions of his works.
“Liu Zhenyun’s works have achieved great success with the Chinese people. They have been translated into over 20 languages and enthusiastically received by audiences the world over. A pioneer in magical realism, Liu is also considered by many to be China’s greatest humorist.”
— Award ceremony, Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters (France)
"Liu Zhenyun establishes a narrative form that is complicated yet concise, and his works are endowed with cultural and philosophical significance. Traversing the rise and fall of all living things in this vast world of ours, he offers an exquisite analysis of the spiritual conditions of the Chinese people. In his tireless examination of Chinese style and the Chinese heart, he carries on the spirit of critical reflection from the May Fourth era, while at the same time echoing the traditions of classical literature. The results are original and remarkable.”
— on Someone to Talk To, 8th Mao Dun Literature Prize
“Liu Zhenyun’s works chatter on pleasantly, yet they also carry a powerful force, writing about anything from national affairs to folk customs and handling complicated matters with ease. Everything is vivid and lifelike, from the grandest temple to the pettiest squabble, with rich layers of meaning lying beneath the surface. His pen is ruthless, but his heart is kind.”
— on I am Not Madame Bovary, 8th China Film Directors’ Guild Awards
“His works are literary and philosophical, while at the same time very readable--a rare combination.”
— Sabina Knight, professor and author of Chinese Literature: A Very Short Introduction
“Liu Zhenyun has the ability to employ the simplest methods to write about the most complicated things.”
— Geneviève Imbot-Bichet, French translator and publisher
“Liu Zhenyun uses humor to reach the absurdity at the heart of the matter.”
— Michael Kahn-Ackermann, German translator
“Liu Zhenyun’s humor is just a mask; behind it is serious thought.”
— Anna Gustafsson Chen, Swedish translator
“Liu Zhenyun’s works tell more than just a Chinese story—they discuss the human circumstances we all face.”
— Daniele Beltrame, Italian literary scholar
“Liu Zhenyun provides incredibly piercing, insightful descriptions of the awkward circumstances of life and humanity.”
— Liljana Arsovska, Mexican translator
Liu Zhenyun's works—humorous, penetrating, and on point—are beloved by both Chinese and foreign readers alike.
— Alexey Rodionov, Russian translator
Liu Zhenyun’s works show that he is as compassionate as he is funny.
— Jirō Asada, Japanese writer
Liu Zhenyun’s works are full of humor and embody a Chinese logic.
— Kim Tae Sung, Korean translator
If someone asked me to recommend a Chinese novel, I would definitely suggest one of Liu Zhenyun’s. After reading his works, I gained an understanding of the complicated inner world of the Chinese people, while at the same time laughing more than I have reading any other Chinese author’s writing.
— Ahmed El-Saeed, Egyptian translator