Home-Building in Mao-Era—The Dialectic between Politics and Family in Yan Geling’s The Criminal Lu Yanshi

There is a correlation and tension between the nation and family inherently implied in the Chinese term guojia, with “guo” meaning nation and “jia” referring to family. However, during Mao era the notion of jia (family) is threatened because the socialist authoritarian power and the unified Maoist ideology have largely reduced the notions of family and marriage. Therefore, there is a huge emotional void in the sense of family during the Mao era. Yan Geling’s novel examined in this paper has addressed this void by portraying a dynamic between nation, politics and family, marriage, guo and jia. Through discussing Yan Geling’s novel set during the Mao era, The Criminal Lu Yanshi (Lufan Yanshi, 2011), my chapter examines when the disrupted political regime and destroyed homeland force intellectuals into exile, how individuals sustain and re-establish their sense of home through love, marriage and family. Instead of defining “home” in relation to national identity, “home” in Yan’s works is straddled between Communist collectives and individuals. Yan’s novel questions the nation as the sole source of defining “home,” in fact it disrupts the finding of home in that particular setting because Mao regime works against the personal feelings of “home.”


  • East Asian Studies