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Cultural Invention and Cultural Intervention:
Reading Chinese Urban Fiction of the Nineties

by Jie Lu

Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, vol. 13, no. 1, pp.107-139


The paper examines the so-called "urban fiction" of the 1990s, represented by He Dun's short story, "The Sun Is Very Nice" and Chi Li's "Coming and Going." These works reflect the life of the new urbanite of the middle and bourgeois classes created by the marketization and commercialization in contemporary Chinese society. My analysis shows how certain fiction writers critically engage consumer culture as the cultural dominant of the age. I argue that in critiquing consumer culture as corrosive and illusory, these writers are simultaneously inventing a new capitalist cultural imaginary that both reflects and responds to the cultural demands of the capitalist society toward which China seems to be inexorably moving.