Traditional Chinese Painting is considered as a masterpiece of Wang Yuewen. The story displays a wide stage on which myriads of people from all ranks and trades, be it official, businessman, painter, reporter, monk, freak, demonstrate a kaleidoscope of lifestyles. Despite a large web of characters and plots, the central clue of the story is clear and unmistakable, the rise in career ladder of officials. This upward mobility not only reveals the game rules prevalent in officialdom not much known by the outsiders at the time, as well as the complicated social networks corresponding to the rules, but also showcases the inevitability of twisted depravity of human nature under these circumstances. Blending all these elements into a unified whole, the author successfully presents a lifelike picture of Chinese officialdom in 1990s, portraying all too vividly the vicissitudes in modern Chinese official circles.
As a writer with a keen sense of realistic care and social responsibility, Wang Yuewen never fails to touch the very essence of true life, manifesting sincerely and bravely the complexities of real life. Thanks to his early experience in government posts, his descriptions of official life are skillful and convincing. His works are regarded by some as a contemporary version of Revelations of Officials’ True Features, and his novel collection is named Days in the Official World, both of which provide readers with a brand-new literary imagination and artistic image. Chen Fumin, a contemporary literary critic and associate research fellow in China Social Sciences Academy Research Institute once remarked: “Wang Yuewen is to officialdom novels what Jin Yong is to martial arts novels, Qiong Yao to romance novels, and Er Yuehe to imperial novels.” This remark is precise and forceful. Traditional Chinese Painting covers a whole range of behaviors and experiences when people involved in official world are chased and coerced by power and lust. The story boasts a clear theme, careful description, elaborate portrayal, and insightful observation. Like a mirror, it takes a close look at people’s souls, magnifies social ills, and points to the remedies implicitly. With all the merits combined, this novel deserves the title of a cautionary tale in contemporary China, a successful creation guided by the concept of realism.
王跃文，湖南溆浦人，1962 年09月生。王跃文于1989年开始文学创作，从2001年10 月起专职写小说，主要作品有长篇小说《国画》《梅次故事》《西州月》《亡魂鸟》，小说集《天气不好》《漫天芦花》，散文、随笔集《我不懂味》《胡思乱想的日子》等，享有中国官场文学第一人之美称，被授予“湖南省德艺双馨文艺家”“湖南省首届青年文化名人”等称号。部分作品在香港和台湾出版，并被译介到俄罗斯、美国、意大利、瑞士和朝鲜等国家，获得了广泛好评。
1995 年，中篇小说《秋风庭院》获《小说选刊》文学奖；1996 年，中篇小说《今夕何夕》获《当代》文学奖；1997 年，获湖南省青年文学奖；1997 年，短篇小说《雾失故园》获《中国作家》文学奖；1999 年，中篇小说《夜郎西》获《中篇小说选刊》优秀中篇小说奖，中篇小说《夏秋冬》获《当代》文学奖；2001 年，长篇小说《梅次故事》获《当代》文学奖；2014 年 8 月，中篇小说《漫水》获第六届鲁迅文学奖。
Wang Yuewen, born in September 1962, is a native of Xupu, Hunan Province. His literary career started in 1989, and has become a full-time writer since October 2001. His major works include: novels--Traditional Chinese Painting, Mei Ci’s Story, Moon on Xizhou, Bird of Lost Soul, novel collections--Bad Weather, Showers of Reed Catkins, and essay collections: I Am No Gourmet, Days of Wild Fancy, which have won him the reputation of first Chinese writer on officialdom literature. He has been conferred such titles as Excellent Artist and Writer in both Art and Morality in Hunan Province, and 1st Youth Culture Celebrity in Hunan Province. Some of his works have been published in Hong Kong and Taiwan, and their translated versions in Russia, USA, Italy, Switzerland, Korea and other countries have won wide acclaim.
He has also won dozens of literature awards: In 1995, novella The Courtyard in Autumn Wind won Selected Stories Biannual Literature Award. In 1996, novella Tonight or Which Night won Dangdai Bimonthly Literature Award. In 1997, Youth Literature Award of Hunan Province and Chinese Writers Monthly Literature Award were both granted to his short story Native Garden Lost in Mist. In 1999, novella Yelang West won Outstanding Novella Prize by Selected Novella Bimonthly and novella Summer, Autumn and Winter won Dangdai Bimonthly Literature Prize. In 2001, novel Mei Ci’s Story won Dangdai Bimonthly Literature Prize. In 2010, he was shortlisted for Best Writer of Mianwang Cup Chinese Literature and Art Net Prize. In August 2014, novella Flooding Water won 6th Lu Xun Literature Prize.
小说主人公朱怀镜本是农家子弟，年轻时候的朱怀镜朴实厚道且不乏机敏才干，大学毕业后在基层工作了 10 年，凭借勤奋和能干在家乡乌县当上了副县长，后调任荆都市政府办公厅副处长。朱怀镜本想着自己的际遇应该如相面人之言——“骨子里未能脱俗”，“离土而去、飞黄腾达”，可是在现实中他却是在有职无权的副处长位子上一坐就是 3 年，其间备尝呆坐“冷板凳”的不易与辛酸。看到别人官场得意、颐指气使、出入宾馆酒楼，拥有宝车情妇，而自己却过得凄凄惶惶、日子愈发捉襟见肘，这令朱怀镜的内心很不平衡，苦恼不已。
好在天无绝人之路，在副处长职位上停滞不前且备尝压抑的朱怀镜终于迎来了自己事业上的转机。而这个转机正源于朱怀镜家乡乌县的县委书记张天奇。张天奇刚坐到县委书记的位子上，就想方设法要巴结巴结荆都市里诸位大员。他想出一个歪点子，就是通过关系给市里有关领导家里各配送一名年轻貌美的服务小组，美其名曰“代请保姆”（实际上是给领导们送情妇）；并各送一箱乌县的土特产“秦宫春”（表面上是保健品，实际是帮领导们壮阳补肾）。张天奇万事俱备，但是苦于门径不熟，因此不敢贸然行事，于是便找到昔日同事朱怀镜，求他帮助引见。这一机缘巧合让蹉跎已久的朱怀镜不禁心中大喜，认为这是一个接近领导、联络感情的绝好机会，便满口答应，并使出了浑身解数，帮助张天奇出色的完成了派送任务。自此之后，朱怀镜便时来运转，经常到市长、秘书的家中登门拜访，逐渐得到了领导的器重。后来由于一次偶然机会，朱怀镜无意中探听到了市长皮德求的小儿子皮勇将要出国深造，这使他觉得又是一次难得的讨好领导的机会，于是他和妻子咬了咬牙，给市长送上了 2 万元人情。果然，在“礼物”送出不久，朱怀镜便得到一个肥缺，顺利升迁为财贸处第一把手。肥缺到手，朱怀镜自然今时不同往日，于是祝贺巴结的酒席饭局，应接不暇。
朱怀镜的老家乌县引进假皇挑种子并强迫当地农民种植，结果造成了乌县果农高达二千多万元损失的严重后果。当富有正义感的记者曾俚（曾是朱怀镜的大学同学）在地方小报上捅出此事后，犹如一颗重磅炸弹，顿时引起了乌县县委书记张天奇等人的恐慌。张天奇思来想去，便再一次拜托朱怀镜去劝曾俚不要继续更深度的报道。朱怀镜明知曾俚报道的事件属实，而且是在维护农民利益，但他为了与张天奇结成同盟好相互照应，便昧着良心、巧言令色地劝他过去的同窗好友收回已投向几家全国性大报的新闻搞。后来，乌县又发生了一起为迎接市领导检查强行将乞丐、残疾人转移，结果中途翻车造成 46 人全部遇难的特大事故，正好又被曾俚碰上，曾俚再一次要真实报道。但为保住张天奇的官位和颜面，更为自己以后在官场上能多一条后路，朱怀镜再次昧着良心阻拦了他。为了爬到更高的位置，此时的朱怀镜已完全丧失良知与底线。他已经走上了一条只为自己而精心设计好的升迁之路，便再也无法回头。
朱怀镜在财贸处的副手邓才刚是一个正直、能干、不阿谀奉承、不计个人名利得失的人，就连朱怀镜都佩服他的能力与节操。可官场的复杂性往往不是正直就可以平步青云，偏偏是这样一个好干部，在副处长的位子上一坐就是 20 年，却一直得不到提拔，原因就是他不会阿谀奉承，甚至私下还曾批评有的领导是“四子”领导 ( 只会跑场子、 画圈子、 剪带子、 批条子 )。这一来便给领导留下极坏印象，怎么也扭转不过来，只得长期坐冷板凳，后来他一气之下，辞职下海去了。
春风得意的朱怀镜在官场和情场上都是永不满足，刚当上财贸处长没多久的他又开始企盼和谋划着更高的权位。他深谙官场之道，一方面大作表面工作树政绩，一方面在领导那里大献殷勤套近乎。市长爱字画，他便将好友、青年画家李明溪精心创作的价值 28 万元的国画《寒林图》骗来献上；市长过生日，他忙不迭地赶送寿礼节；市长生病，他如孝子贤孙侍奉身边，甚至连市长家吃的粮食和蔬菜他都亲自扛送上门，并想方设法弄来绿色食品。经过如此这般的努力，朱怀镜果然进一步博得了市长欢心，不久又高升为财政厅副厅长。然而天有不测风云，正当朱怀镜紧抱皮市长的大腿计划着青云直上之时，市长却因大儿子皮杰骗取银行巨额贷款潜逃国外而受到牵连，加上政敌的明争暗斗，很快在残酷的官场上败下阵来。而屋漏偏逢连夜雨，几乎是同一时间，朱怀镜的情人梅玉琴也因收受贿赂被抄家，朱梅二人偷情时种种不堪入目的照片也落入了检察机关之手。后台倒了，与情人的关系暴露了，从此朱怀镜声名狼藉，虽然未被免职，却风光不在，处处受到冷遇。
The story of Traditional Chinese Painting, taking as its thread the ups and downs in official life of Zhu Huaijing, the protagonist, and with lifelike depiction of scenes of human nature on and off stage in Jindu City, vividly portrays a host of characters living in the centre or periphery of power. The story also uncovers their unique mentality and observed rules of game, and explores the human nature and mechanism workings underpinning the evils and corruptions in a given social environment.
A farmer’s son by birth, the protagonist Zhu Huaijing was simple and honest when young but capable and resourceful as well. After graduation he devoted himself to low-level work for ten years. By virtue of diligence and competence he was appointed deputy county mayor of his hometown Wu County, later was transferred to Jindu Municipal Government and became deputy director of the general office. Contrary to his expectations that “a meteoric rise would follow afterwards”, since “in nature he was not much different from the common vulgar folk” as predicted by the fortune-teller, he remained in that powerless position for a full three years, during which course he tasted bitterly the hard misery of being a benchwarmer. While other officials who got quickly promoted enjoyed bossing people around and being indulged in lavish life, his daily existence became all the more distressing and hard-pressed. Naturally, he failed to find peace with his heart and was seriously disturbed deep within.
Luck favored him at long last. Just as his official career reached a plateau, a turning point appeared. This favorable turn was brought about by Zhang Tianqi, committee secretary of Wu County, Zhu Huaijing’s hometown. The new broom lost no time in apple-polishing each and every official in Jindu City with all means possible. A tricky idea Zhang conjured up was to send a young and beautiful help lady to the city leader concerned via connections, under the disguise of “a hired nanny” (but a mistress in reality). In addition, he wanted to send each leader a box of “qin gong chun”, some local specialty of Wu County (a health-care food in surface but a sex-tonic in essence.) For Zhang Tianqi, everything was ready except one thing: He dared not take such a liberty without being introduced first. Thereupon he came to Zhu Huaijing, his former colleague, and readily sought his help in this line. To the latter that had been slipping days away for long, this coincidence was nothing but a godsend to approach leaders and pat them on the back. So he agreed without further ado and went out of his way to assist Zhang Tianqi in finishing the task superbly. Since then, life took a better turn; he became a frequent visitor at the homes of the mayor and the secretary, and won their favor little by little. Later Zhu Huaijing learned by chance that Pi Yong, the youngest son of Mayor Pi Deqiu wished to go abroad for further study. Taking it as a rare chance to court leaders, he and his wife bit the bullet and offered the mayor 20,000 yuan. As expected, soon after the “present” was sent out, he was rewarded with a lucrative post and got promoted to be the number one man of Finance and Business Section. Once in office, he lived a sharply different life from that of the past, being treated and entertained all the time.
Being no lofty gentleman, Zhu Huaijing loved beauty as much as position. At one banquet, he was aroused by the pretty young waitress and couldn’t keep his hand off her body. On another occasion, he was more strongly aroused at the sight of Mei Yuqin, vice general manager of Long Xing Restaurant, who was more beautiful and graceful. Backed by career success, he flirted with her without the slightest reserve and called her by a sweet name. After much trouble he managed to make her become his mistress. Their frequent secret meetings finally turned into a night-by-night romance. Blessed with a good wife and a beautiful lover, Zhu Huaijing should have felt contented; yet his wild desires were again aroused when he faced Chen Yan, a brilliant carefree female reporter from City TV Station. Only after he was informed that she was the mayor’s mistress did he refrain from taking rash moves.
Zhu Huaijing’s hometown Wu County brought in fake yellow peach seeds and forced the local farmers to plant them, causing a loss of over 20 million yuan to the farmers. When this news was reported on the local newspaper by Zeng Li , a righteous journalist (and a former university classmate of Zhu Huaijing), it triggered an instant panic like a heavy bomb to Zhang Tianqi, secretary of the county and other leaders. After much thinking, Zhang entreated Zhu again to talk Zeng out of further reporting. Although Zhu understood very well the report was based on truth and was in the interest of local farmers, he dissuaded against his conscience his former classmate to take back the submissions to a few national newspapers with artful speech, out of his alliance with Zhang. Later, another catastrophe broke out. In order to receive the city leaders, the county forced beggars and the handicapped to move away, with 46 people killed in the overturned lorry. Once again Zeng Li wanted to make it known to the public. And once again he was stopped by Zhu Huaijing who wanted to protect Zhang Tianqi’s position and face, and more to leave a door open for his later ascent in official world. To reach a higher position, Zhu Huaijing has lost his conscience and moral by now. He has embarked on a road of promotion carved out for himself with no turning back.
Deng Cai, Zhu’s deputy at Finance and Business Section, was a man of righteousness and competence. He kissed nobody’s ass and cared nothing about personal gains and losses. Even Zhu admired his ability and integrity. However, given the complexity of officialdom, a man of integrity could hardly expect to go up the ladder. Such a good cadre thus remained in the position of deputy director for 20 years. He had never got elevated simply because he never sweet-talked and even criticized some leaders in private, saying they were incapable of anything but socializing, networking, ceremony-attending and back-door dealing. No doubt he had left a very bad impression on the leaders who gave him none but the cold shoulder. After his heels were cooled for many years, Deng eventually resigned his post and engaged in business instead.
The triumphant Zhu Huaijing never gets satiated in office and in love. Shortly after he became director of Finance and Business Section he started to covet a higher position. As an old hand in officialdom, he tried hard to make administrative achievements by doing superficial work, while cottoning up to the superiors at the same time. Learning that the mayor had a special fancy for Chinese calligraphy and painting, he presented Cold Forest to the mayor, a traditional Chinese painting worth 280,000 yuan created painstakingly by Li Mingxi, his friend and a young artist, by coaxing and cajoling. On the mayor’s birthday, he hastened to send him gifts; when the mayor took ill, he waited on him like a filial son. He even delivered to the door the mayor’s favorite rice and vegetables, and tried all means to get him green foodstuff. The mayor’s favor duly won, he was exalted to vice deputy director of the Finance Department. However, out of the blue, just as Zhu Huaijing was counting on Mayor Pi for his career advancement, the latter was found involved in the case of his eldest son Pi Jie, who escaped abroad with massive bank loans. In no time the mayor lost power amidst open rivalry and veiled strife from his political enemies. It never rains but pours. Almost at the same time, the house of Mei Yuqin, Zhu Huaijing’s lover was searched as she was drawn into bribery. All the indecent photos recording their secret affair fell into the hands of the prosecuting authority. With the backer falling and his extramarital affair exposed, Zhu Huaijing’s reputation got ruined overnight. Although he was not removed from office, he has passed his prime, and got brushed aside everywhere he went.
Unpredictable is the life, the overt and covert intriguing still goes on in officialdom. Although being dragged into his son, Pi Jie’s case, Mayor Pi got transferred to the position of CPPCC chairman in charge of religious matter. As it was part of his business, Pi could visit Jinshan Temple now fairly and squarely. After being summoned by the Discipline Inspection Commission for an interview, Zhu Huaijing went to study in the Party school in Beijing. Upon completion, he returned but still acted as vice director. Through the influence of Zhang Tianqi, his old friend for years and now prefectural party committee secretary, he secured a position of equal rank. A new round of entertaining and treating started afresh. His wife Xiang Mei filed a divorce, while his lover Yu Qin was still in jail, looking dully at nothing. Zhu Huaijjing had no idea whether his former classmate Zeng Li had found a proper work platform or not, nor was he informed whether Li Mingxi was sane or insane, alive or dead, after disappearing from the mental asylum. He looked up at the dazzling sun, blankly knowing where he was.
长篇小说《白鹿原》为陈忠实的代表作。该作被国家教育部列入“大学生必读”系列，被评为“百年百种优秀中国文学图书”（1900—1999），迄今已发行逾 200 万册，并被改编成秦腔、话剧、舞剧、连环画、雕塑等多种艺术形式。