Resigned Irony of the In-Between: Cao Kou and New Loser Literature

DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.13185/PAHA2021.111-206
Submitted Date: Jan 8, 2022

Abstract

Cao Kou (b. 1977) has steadily gained prominence since his literary debut in 2001 and presently enjoys a wide following and literary standing as a prolific author of fiction ranging from full-length novel to flash fiction and short, personal essays. While some call Cao as a “decadent” writer who rejects the status quo, others define his work by its fragmentary quality. This essay argues for Cao’s “in-betweenness” in Nanjing literature, citing generational and geographical divides as the reasons. Further, I argue that Cao Kou’s self-conscious outsider persona, positioning as part of an “intermediate generation,” and caustic and sometimes experimental narrative technique allow him to act as a caustic, insider’s eye on down-in-the-mouth Yangtze basin masculinity. Unlike classical outsider literature, the milieu is not outcast but embedded, presenting a critical but resigned view of the Chinese city from the author’s home island in the river.

Keywords

Cao Kou, Chinese fiction, loser literature, Nanjing, Chinese contemporary literature

Please login first to access subscription form of article

Read Full text in PDF

Browse By