Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9782360572885
Collection: Novella de Chine
10 x 18 cm
Weight: 91 gr
Pages: 112
First publication: 12/05/2021
CLIL: 3444
BISAC: FIC094030

Book supported by CNL

Read an excerpt

Sur le balcon

(On the balcony)

Translation: Brigitte Duzan

« Rear window » in contemporary China

The first part of this novella takes place in an old quarter of Shanghai where the house of young Zhang Yingxiong is, like the others, on the verge of demolition; but his father refuses all compensation offered as the neighbors move one by one, he starts drinking and dies of a heart attack. After his death, his widow signs the compensation offer and the house is razed to the ground. Zhang Yingxiong then takes it into his head to avenge his father. He was hired as a waiter in a restaurant with a window in the back overlooking the apartment of the man responsible for evictions in the neighborhood, whom he held responsible for his father's death. Ruminating on his desire for revenge, he watches this man's daughter, on the balcony opposite, through the window, and follows her down the street as she leaves, thinking of making her the instrument of his revenge. But he realizes little by little that things are not so simple... The narrative continues by unfolding a very subtle story, with a tension whose suspense is only lifted at the very end, in an open conclusion, deliberately non-dramatic, which suddenly leaves room for emotion.

Paper book


“... Desire and hatred are closely intertwined in this text, which is both brief and incisive. "

(Paris Normandie (quotidien normand), 24/06/2021)
Download the article

« ... L'auteur nous livre ici une véritable chronique sociale, avec des personnages forts, mais déchus, bien présents mais qui restent mystérieux, doublée d'un récit empli de suspens, et d'une intrigue bâtie comme celle d'un roman policier ... »

(Dans la Bulle de Manou - Sur le balcon 01/06/2021)
Download the article

Sur le balcon, l'effroyable spectacle du monde selon Ren Xiaowen
« ... Le récit tient seulement l'exact procès-verbal des conséquences d'une vaste entreprise d'expropriation déterritorialisation généralisée, en un mot, un déracinement, ne conduisant qu'à la seule réalité, la psychiatrisation du monde ... »

(Boojum, 01/06/2021)
Download the article

« ... Ren Xiaowen, en maîtresse narrative, brosse un récit souvent proche de la fable allégorique, à l'image de cette "porte tournante qu'on n'a jamais réussi à faire tourner", métaphore d'un monde où rien ne va comme l'on veut, où les contraintes administratives rendent les personnages de papier, marionnettes orphelines, prisonniers de formulaires absurdes ... »

(La Petite Rhapsode, 17/05/2021)
Download the article


Brigitte Duzan

Brigitte Duzan is an independent researcher in Chinese literature and cinema and translator of Chinese. Founder and host of two reference websites: on Chinese cinema and on Chinese literature. Her research and translations are mainly focused on Chinese women's literature and Chinese short stories, as well as the cinema adapted from this literature. Animator of the Cycle littérature et cinéma chinois de l’université de Paris (formerly Paris-Diderot), she founded and also animates the Club de lecture de littérature chinois (Chinese Literature Reading Club, former Literature Club of the Chinese Cultural Center in Paris) .

Ren Xiaowen

Born in 1978, Ren Xiaowen is one of the most brilliant writers of contemporary Chinese literature, author of novels and collections of short stories acclaimed by critics and crowned with numerous literary awards, among which we can quote: "The Women" , Tamen (《她们》), “On the Island”, Dao Shang (《岛上》) and “The third daughter of the Zhu family”, Zhu sanxiaojie from yi sheng (《朱 三 小姐 的 一生》). "On the balcony", Yangtai shang (《阳台 上》), is one of his best-known stories, halfway between short story and novel, chosen for its qualities of substance as well as form to inaugurate the new collection of Chinese novellas "Novella de Chine".

More infos on Ren Xiaowen on website (© Brigitte Duzan)


Novella de Chine
ISSN : 2800-9339
Literary texts lying between novel and short story form a specific genre of Chinese literature combining the narrative richness of one with the stylistic qualities of the other, for which French has no specific term, hence the choice to borrow that of novella from English. This genre has become so important in China and has given rise to such original and remarkable works that L'Asiathèque has decided to devote a collection to it, directed by Brigitte Duzan: "Novella de Chine".