Wang Anyi is a prominent writer among the "Seeking Roots" group. The daughter of the fiction writer Ju Chih-chuan, Wang Anyi grew up in Shanghai, China. Like so many others of her generation, she had her education cut short in 1969 when she was sent to do farm labor on a commune in the backward northern part of Anhwei Province. In 1972 her fortunes improved when she was relocated to northern Kiangsu to the city of Hsu-chou, where she became part of a cultural troupe. She began to publish short stories in 1976, while she was still away from home. Wang Anyi was allowed to return to Shanghai in 1978, and she found a position as editor of the magazine Childhood. In 1980, the year in which she wrote "And the Rain Patters On," she was offered an opportunity for further professional training, Two important stories-"Base the Wall" and "Lapse of Time"-followed in 1981 and 1982. These stories deal with the subtle psychological changes of characters during the " lost years" of the Cultural Revolution. Although Anyi's writing has a distinct Chinese flavor, there also is evidence of surrealism. Wang Anyi claims to be exploring the structure of Chinese culture, as well as Freud and sexuality. She has always claimed that she herself has been driven by repressed passions, and it is an indication of her intellectual curiosity and honesty that she should probe these forces in her fiction. Chinese readers admire her both her delicate and restrained style.
Wang Anyi began her career as a writer in 1978. Her books in English include Lapse of Time, Love in a Small Town, Love on a Barren Mountain, Brocade Valley, and the novel Baotown, which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book of the Year award. She currently lives in Shanghai and is a professor of Chinese literature at Fudan University.Michael Berry is associate professor of contemporary Chinese cultural studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the author of Speaking in Images: Interviews with Contemporary Chinese Filmmakersand A History of Pain: Literary and Cinematic Mappings of Violence in Modern China. He is also the translator of novels by Yu Hua, Ye Zhaoyan, and Chang Ta-chun.Susan Chan Egan is an independent scholar based in Santa Barbara, California. She is the author of A Latterday Confucian: Reminiscences of William Hung (1893-1980)and coauthor of A Pragmatist and His Free Spirit: The Half-Century Romance of Hu Shi and Edith Clifford Williams.