Chen, Ying

Ying Chen, novelist (b at Shanghai, China 1961 ). A graduate in French language and literature from Shanghai University, Ying Chen initially set her sights on a career as a translator: in addition to French, she has mastered English, Japanese, Russian and Mandarin. In 1989, she settled in Montréal to pursue a graduate degree in creative writing at McGill University (1991), and her first novel, La Mémoire de l'eau was published by Leméac in 1992. Written in an intimate style, it recounts the reality of modern day China, particularly from a political point of view, through four generations of women. Then came Les Lettres chinoises (Lemeac, 1993), an epistolary novel essentially made up of the exchanges between two Chinese lovers, one of whom emigrated to Québec. More than a reflection on being uprootedness, culture shock, and the inevitable dissipation of love, these Chinese letters offer a new and touching look at life in Québec amid considerations of political and sexual freedom. Ying Chen's third novel L'Ingratitude/Ingratitude (Leméac, 1995) was listed for the Prix Fémina 1995, won the Prix Québec-Paris and Elle Québec magazine reader's prize (1996), and the Prix des Libraires du Québec (Association of Quebec booksellers). It symbolizes the inferior status of women in China. The heroine, of marriageable age, chooses a fate of violent rebellion, punishing her mother's authoritarianism at the expense of her own life. Immobile is Ying Chen's next novel (Boréal, 1998), throughout this story, deeply anchored in a temporal element, the author delivers her concept of nothingness. Torn between her current life and memories of her former one, the heroine feels reality slipping away. The story builds in a make-believe rather horrific fashion, but the ethereal style makes it still more abstruse than the previous ones. The author defines Immobile (Prix Alfred Desrochers 1999) as "a kind of vulgarisation of everyday life in the modern world and the modern aesthetic". Ying Chen, one of the upcoming generation of novelists, is distinguished by her meticulous interpretation and thorough inner analysis of society and the individual.