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In this essay, Yan Lianke reflects on the impact that American literature had on the Chinese literary scene in the 1980s and 1990s. As a result of the policies associated with the Reform and Opening Up campaign that began in 1978, this was a period when a large amount of foreign literature and culture was introduced into China, and Yan Lianke argues that literature by contemporary American authors was particularly influential. The essay comments on the impact of specific authors, such as Joseph Heller and Kurt Vonnegut, as well as broader groupings of authors, such as the Beat Generation, the Lost Generation, and authors associated with Black Humor. He points to how a general fascination with the United States in China at the time helped reinforce this fascination with American literature, while also pointing to what he perceives to be American literature's limitations, in that the US has not yet produced an author whose impact is comparable to that of someone like Kafka or García Márquez.

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