Writers who saw what was coming and escaped from China and those who didn’t see it. China produced 4 very prominent female writers in the 1940s.
Is beauty really skin deep? Do your clothes say nothing about you? Chinese author Zhang Ai Ling who wrote 色戒 once said that she decided to leave China because they wouldn’t allow her to wear the cheongsam or 旗袍. Of course, that’s just a mime to sum up her abhorrence for the lack of freedom in a Shanghai that the communists took over recently. While border controls were not tightened, she left for Hong Kong.
Unlike Zhang Ai Ling, Pan Liu Dai was born in a poor family. A competitor on the literary scene, the two never quite got along. Pan saw what was coming even before Zhang Ai Ling did; as early as 1950 when Shanghai was still an “autonomous” city. She not only left China and went to Hong Kong, she left Hong Kong and migrated to Australia the very moment Deng Xiao Ping met up with Margaret Thatcher and inked the Sino-British Joint Declaration.
Su Qing and Guan Lu were the other two female writers who didn’t follow Zhang Ai Ling and Pan Liu Dai. Among the 4 of them, Su Qing was probably the most successful. Although she was rather obedient and wrote many plays and essays supportive of the communist party, she was maligned by competitors and imprisoned in 1955. Even though her prison term was only 2 years, her life went irreversibly downhill after that. She could only wish for an early death.
Guan Lu was pro communist from the very start. She even acted as a spy infiltrating the KMT but after the CCP took over in 1949, she had no medals or awards. Instead, she was arrested and branded a traitor. Guan Lu committed suicide in 1982 after writing her memoir.
Of course when we talk about writers who escaped China, we can’t omit the legendary Ni Kuang.