Wang Xiaobo was one of China's most innovative writers of 20th Century. Much of his fictional writings are satirical portrayals of the social upheavals in China during his lifetime. He often used sexuality as a platform for exploring issues of human diginity and social repression. His literary influences included Italo Calvino, George Orwell, Marguerite Duras, Milan Kundera, Bertrand Russell, and Ernest Hemingway. Though his writings didn't enjoy much commercial success before he died of heart illness in 1997 at the age of 45, they became hugely popular among young people in China soon after his death.
1952, May 13: Born in Beijing, China, the fourth of five children, the second eldest boy. His father was a professor at China People's (Renmin) University, Philosophy Department, specializing in logic. His father joined the Communist-led student movement in 1935, soon after arriving in Yan'An, where Communist troops gathered after the Great March. In early 1950s, his father worked as an official in China's Department of Education. In 1952, he lost his position and party membership for political reasons, not regaining his party membership until 1979 after the Cultural Revolution. Wang Xiaobo's mother was originally from Shandong Province and worked as an official in the national Department of Education.
1968-1970: Typical of city youth in the Cultural Revolution, he went to the countryside to work as a laborer, in his case to Yunnan Province (southern China, near the Thai border). This period is famously fictionalized in "The Golden Era."
1971: Went to work in the countryside of Shandong Province (northeast China). Worked as a school teacher during part of this period.
1972-1973: Returned to Beijing and worked in a educational scientific instrument factory.
1974-1978: Worked in a semiconductor factory in western part of Beijing. The story "Love in Revolutionary Era" was based on his life as a worker during this period.
1977: Met "Guangmin Daily" editor Li Yinghe, whom he later married.
1978-1982: Studied as an undergraduate at Beijing's China People's University (Renmin) Business Economics Department.
1982-1984: Worked as a teacher at China People's University. Began working on "The Golden Era."
1984-1988: Studied at University of Pittsburg in the U.S. in its East Asian Studies Department, obtaining a Master's Degree.
1988-1991: Lecturer, Beijing University, Sociology Department.
1991-1992: Lecturer, China People's University, Accounting Department.
1992: Became a freelance writer.
1997, April 10: Died of heart disease in Beijing.