Project Description

Nominated for the Pushcart PrizeFan Wu

China / USA

Fan WU was born in Jiangxi Province in 1973 and is a writer, translator, and literary consultant. She grew up on a farm in southern China, and later attended Stanford University and worked as a market research analyst in the Silicon Valley. Her novels and short fiction, nominated for the Pushcart Prize and other awards, are internationally acclaimed. Wu volunteers at a UK-based charity that helps adoptive families in the West understand the Chinese culture, and co-organized the Southern International Literary Festival in Guangzhou. Fluently bilingual, she writes in both English and Chinese. She lives in California and travels to China and Europe regularly.

For more information, please visit: > fanwuwrites.com

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Fan Wu© Mattias Cedergren

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Souls Left Behind

On his wedding day in 1917, Delun (David) Zhang, a wealthy and well-educated young man from a quiet Chinese northern town, flees the arranged marriage to join the Chinese Labour Corps, manual workers recruited by the British. After a treacherous journey from China to Britain, he and his Chinese peers arrive in wartime France. Treated as coolies and locked up in guarded barracks, he and his friends are soon involved in digging trenches, repairing roads, uploading ammunition, collecting corpses, and many other tasks that often endanger their lives. They also face constant injustice and discrimination.
Anguished by having betrayed his family, Zhang cherishes his bond with four other laborers, two of whom are killed subsequently by the Germans. He himself almost dies in the flu pandemic. While working at a ship factory in France, Zhang meets Marguerite, a strong-minded French girl. They fall in love despite the disapproval of French society. Zhang faces a tough choice. Does he return to his family and privileged life in China? Or does he stay in France for love, a poor and unwelcome foreigner? ”
Almost seventy years have passed. Zhang, now a widower living in Paris, has never revealed much of his past to his children. On his 85th birthday, suffering early-stage Alzheimer’s, he embarks on yet another journey to reflect on the places and people that have defined his life. His French-born daughter Anne must now discover her father’s true identity and history.

Set in France and China, Souls Left Behind is a well-researched historical novel based on true events. It’s a story of hardship, courage, betrayal, survival and love in the impossible times of the First World War.

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Some Dance to Remember (Or: So Cold, So Sweet)

Jane Wang lives a double life in the San Francisco Bay Area: ambitious community-college student by day; popular stripper by night. She wants to go to the University of California, at Berkeley. She takes pride in her financial independence, if only as revenge on her mother, in China. She is scarred by a deprived, lonely childhood in the countryside, where her single mother abandoned her to the care of an abusive friend, to work in the city. Jane resents her mother, and has vowed not to accept her offer of financial support in the USA.
One day, on a remote beach, Jane sees from a distance a young Caucasian photographer taking photos. Though they don’t meet, he intrigues her. After much searching, she finds him, a charming Ph.D. candidate at Stanford University named Eric and they become acquainted. Knowing little about Jane’s past and how she supports herself, Eric falls in love. Jane is afraid of losing him. Guilty and ashamed, she hides her secrets–the financial present, and her past childhood tumult. Over Christmas Jane and Eric travel cross-country by car with another couple to visit Eric’s parents in the East Coast. a trip filled with drama. That couple break up abruptly at the end of the trip, which shakes Jane. Spending time with Eric’s seemingly perfect family drives her further into a crisis of conscience, tormented by both her past and present.

One evening, returning from work, Jane is robbed and beaten. A friend, Tony, aware of her secret job, saves her. She stays at his apartment for the night, where they get high on drugs and become intimate. Afterwards she avoids Eric, compounding her emotional confusion. Jane is admitted to Berkeley, but she’s not happy. She feels that she’s simply fulfilling her mother’s dream, not her own. Who is she? What does she want? Can she hide behind a mask forever? As she performs her last dance at the strip club, she makes a difficult decision that breaks her heart but lets her finally breathe freely, if only temporarily.

Set in the racially-charged Trump era, Some Dance to Remember is a poignant exploration into one’s complex identity that defies swift or simple judgment.

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Hello, Silence

The novel Hello, Silence tells the story of Moli Yang, a successful realtor in San Francisco, but also a woman who cannot forget about her past and her family. One day she receives a letter from her father in China. “Return as soon as possible” is all it says. The journey back home threatens to expose her deepest wounds.

In her teenager days, Moli admired her only brother Yong, a handsome and charismatic Red Guard leader during the Cultural Revolution. She followed him against the will of her parents and at first was fascinated by the adrenalin of the ongoing fights, but when her first boyfriend died, she blamed Yong and lied to her parents, saying that he had killed many innocent people. Later Yong was charged as a revolutionary dissenter and imprisoned. Her parents, now condemned enemies of the party, were devastated and her mother later committed suicide. Accusing herself of her mother’s death, Moli was afflicted with guilt and pain. Back in China, against all expectations and with the help of her childhood love Kai, Moli finds Yong alive, although he’s nothing like the strong man she remembers.

Hello, Silence is a story of a family, a coming-of-age tale, a romance, and a mystery investigation that uncovers the seismic change of contemporary China, but it is also an exploration of the psychological impact of history on individuals and families.

Quotes

Hello, Silence

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February Flowers

Set in modern China, Fan Wu’s debut novel February Flowers tells the stories of two young women. Seventeen-year-old Ming and twenty-four-year-old Yan have very little in common other than studying at the same college. Ming, idealistic and preoccupied, lives in her own world of books, music, and imagination. Yan, by contrast, is sexy but cynical, beautiful but wild, with no sense of home. When the two meet and become friends, Ming’s world is forever changed. But their differences in upbringing and ideology ultimately drive them apart, leaving each to face her dark secret alone. Insightful, sophisticated, and rich with complex characters, February Flowers captures a society torn between tradition and modernity, dogma and freedom. It is a meditation on friendship, family, love, loss, and redemption and how a background shapes a life.

Quotes

February Flowers

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Beautiful as Yesterday

Mary Chang has settled neatly into suburban American life. She has a steady professional job, a young son, devoted Christian friends, a ten-year-old marriage, and the home mortgage to go with it. While Mary worries about her lukewarm relationship with her American-born husband and the disconnect she feels with her mother and younger sister, she’s content to deal with these mundane struggles. After a childhood spent during the tumultuous days of the Cultural Revolution, Mary believes that China—and her family’s own painful history—is in the past, and should be left alone.
By contrast, Mary’s younger sister Ingrid lives a Bohemian life, moving from coast to coast as the mood takes her. She eschews the trappings of typical adulthood, like 401Ks or permanent employment, and even seems to prefer the passionate Latin customs of her friends to her own native culture. For Ingrid—who was present at the Tiananmen Square massacre, when Mary was already studying in the States—China and her family’s past is an ever-present consideration that colors the way she views the world around her.
When Mary convinces their mother, Wang Feng-lan, to visit the United States with the possibility of emigrating permanently, the secrets and tensions that have lain dormant between all three women begin to emerge. As Mary and Ingrid navigate their own emotions and dissatisfaction with life, old family secrets start to come to light— including what Feng-lan and her husband lost in the turbulent days of China’s transformations, and how that shaped the lives of both her daughters.

Quotes

Beautiful as Yesterday

RIGHTS

NOVELS

Souls Left Behind
London:
Sinoist Books (Chinese), approx. 216 p., forthcoming 2022
UK: Sinoist Books (English), forthcoming Spring 2023

Some Dance to Remember / Or: So Cold, So Sweet
Manuscript, 70-80.000 words

Hello, Silence
Manuscript in English, 328 p.

February Flowers
Australia/UK/Hong Kong/Singapore: Picador Asia (Macmillan) 2006; USA: Atria (Simon & Schuster) 2007; Canada: Doubleday 2007, 260 p.
Picador Asia Inaugural Book 2006
Target Bookmark Pick (USA) 2007
China: Flower City 2010 · France: Philippe Picquier 2008 · Hungary: Ulpius-Haz 2008 · Italy: Frassinelli 2007 · Japan: Kodansha (PRH) 2008 · Korea: Random House Korea 2009 · Spain: Nabla Ed. 2008 · Vietnam: Domino Books 2010

Beautiful as Yesterday
USA: Atria (Simon & Schuster) 2009; Australia/UK/Hong Kong/Singapore: Picador Asia (Macmillan) 2010, 368 p.
San Francisco Chronicle Notable Book 2009

SHORT STORY COLLECTION
Nobody’s Talking About Falling in Love (working title), 250 p., consisting of:

Year of the Monkey
UK: Granta 2006, pp. 109-127
Germany: dtv 2009 New Dreams from the Red Chamber (“Neue Träume aus der Roten Kammer”), pp. 7-31

Jade
USA: The Missouri Review 2007, pp. 72-88

The Taste of Life
USA: Ploughshares 2009, pp. 161-172

Decadence
Hong Kong: Asia Literary Review 2010, pp. 11-25

Yaba-A Mute
USA: Redivider 2011, pp. 64-78
Pushcart Prize nominee 2012

The Guest
USA: Hyphen Magazine 2012
Asian American Short Story Contest Honorable Mention

Tickets to Disneyland
USA: The Margins 2016

Singing in the Storm
Italy: Mondadori 2015 Novel of the World, pp. 252-280

Nobody’s Talking About Falling in Love
USA: New Internationalist 2016, pp. 176-194

AND THREE NEW STORIES
The Night Is Younger Than We Are, pp. 81-110

Peach Blossom Luck, pp. 154-177

Jelly Beans, pp. 217-236