This article examines the porridge incident, in which the renowned Chinese author, critic and former minister of culture Wang Meng sued a Communist Party literary journal for attacking him and his story Hard Porridge (Jianying de xizhou). The incident straddled the transitional period between 1989 and 1992 and illuminates the ramifications of structural changes in China's literary sphere. I frame the affair within two contexts: Wang Meng's tortuous career, which challenges dichotomies of bureaucrat vs. dissident, and the transition from a centralized literary sphere to a market-driven one. I argue that Wang's responses to the attack on him stemmed from a political and cultural standing that was the product of a Party-controlled cultural sphere, along with the opportunities offered by expanding reforms. The Deng-era reforms produced a divide between culture, markets and bureaucracy that would preclude cultural figures like Wang from holding such high bureaucratic positions anymore.
- Wang Meng 1989
- cultural politics
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Political Science and International Relations