Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do you pronounce the author's name, and which is the surname and which is the given name?
Geling is the given name; Yan is the surname. Yan is pronounced “yen.” The G in Geling is hard as in “golf” and the “e” is a “shwa” vowel [ə], pronounced as the unstressed “e” in “the.” The author gives her name in English in the usual Western fashion, with given name proceeding surname: Geling Yan. Her name in Chinese is given with surname first: Yan Geling. In Hanyu Pinyin with tone marks, it is pronounced Yán Gēlíng. In International Phonetic Alphabet (without tone marks) her name is written /jɛn gə liŋ/.
The surname Yan means "serious." The first given name character Ge means "song," or in classical Chinese, also "to sing." The second given name character Ling is a type of rare medicinal plant. Her name is written in Traditional Chinese Characters as 嚴歌苓. In Simplified Chinese Characters, it is written 严歌苓. To complicate matters further, the Library of Congress originally listed her under her name in the Wade-Giles Romanization system, so many of her works and copyrights are listed under the name Yen Ko-ling.
Vietnamese translations of her works use the Vietnamese pronunciation of the Chinese characters in her name; thus she is known in Vietnam as Nghiêm Ca Linh. In the translation of her book The Ninth Widow, the publisher misread her third name character and gave her name as Nghiêm Ca Cầm. Further, the Koreans use the Korean readings of the Chinese characters and give her name as Yeon Ka-ring, or in Hangul 옌거링. In Russian, her name is transliterated as Янь Гэлин. Her name characters are pronounced in Cantonese as jim4 go1 ling4 (Jyutping Romanization) or Yìhm Gō Lìhng (Yale Romanization). Her name is written as follows in Hebrew, Farsi, Arabic, Japanese katakana, hiragana and kanji, and in Bulgarian, respectively:
ין גה לינג
يان جه لينغ
Who represents Geling Yan?
Ms. Yan represents herself on Chinese-language book deals. For non-Chinese-language book deals, she is represented by Agence Astier-Pécher of Paris. For film and TV deals she represents herself. Please use the CONTACT form on this website if you wish to contact her about film and TV rights or scriptwriting.
Is Geling Yan present on social media?
Geling Yan has a Facebook fan page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Geling-Yan/6520057508.
Note: Facebook is blocked in China, as is this website.
She does not use Twitter but occasionally posts to her Chinese-language microblog, usually when her publishers request that she do so:
Please note that Ms. Yan does not personally use any social media with the exception of occasional microblog postings, and then only when her publishers request it, but important matters that come through these channels will generally receive an answer or be referred to her as appropriate.
In addition to these, there is another microblog set up by some well-meaning fans of hers in China. While she does not authorize, contribute to or monitor this site, it does have some good material on it, including material that even we have not always been aware of or able to obtain. Here is the site:
There is also a Chinese-language discussion group of Yan Geling's work on Sohu. People have been posting to it almost daily since February 2018. It is quite sophisticated, apparently dominated by literary critics. https://m.sohu.com/media/99939584?spm=smwp.content.author-info.1.1550564501643lY9Wqa8
One article on the Sohu site is a review of a literary study of Yan Geling's works: 严歌苓论 by 刘艳。https://www.sohu.com/a/243214705_99939584
Where do I find Chinese-language information on Geling Yan?
The best place is baidu: http://baike.baidu.com/view/74003.htm
While the entry is extensively researched, there are a number of inaccuracies, so check with us via the contact form on this website before going to press.
In addition, several scholarly books have been written about Yan Geling and her works:
严歌苓论 by 刘艳
此心安處亦吾鄉： 嚴歌苓的移民小說文化版圖 by 葛亮。
跨文化视野下的严歌苓小说与影视作品研究 by 李燕
传媒时代的文学存在--以严歌苓的创作为例/文学研究丛书 by 杨利娟
严歌苓小说叙事三元素研究 by 周航
严歌苓小说的叙事伦理 by 董娜
Scholarly article: Ethical Discourse and Narrative Strategies in Yan’s 《老师，好美》(To my Beautiful Teacher, with Love) by 王卓. In English with an abstract in Chinese.
Approaching History: The Fictional Worlds of Ha Jin and Yan Geling by GUO Rong
Published February 27, 2018 by CHAMPION
ISBN: 9782745345523 (ISBN10: 2745345524)
Language: French? Although the title and the back page blurb are in English and the author teaches English in China. Interesting quotes from writeup on Google Books:
"As one critic says, except for the names of characters and locations, the reality in a literary work is much more authentic than any narratives in history and politics."
"The subsequent four chapters focus on two works of Ha Jin and Yan Geling respectively. Through a detailed examination of the four texts, I argue and demonstrate from different perspectives the point that the narratives of these works constitute an alternative account to the dominant official narratives about China and the Chinese people, either by filling in the gaps left by the state narratives, or by offering a counter-narrative to the official master narratives."
Book on the work of Yan Geling published by the prestigious Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, despite the fact that by the time of its publication she had been banned for over three years. Research was guided by US-based author and literary critic Chen Ruilin, who is credited and who wrote the foreword to this book:
定 价：79 元
出 版 社：中国社会科学出版社
If you have done your research and still can't find answers, send us a message via the CONTACT form and we will see what we can do. Chinese-language inquiries are fine. 用中文写也可以。
I am a journalist and writing a story on Geling Yan. Where do I find
Please use the contact form on this website and tell us who you are, who you work for, and what you're looking for. We will provide you with high-resolution photos. The author owns the rights to these photos, but we are grateful if you give photo credit to the professional photographers who took them. Most are taken by the photographers Zhou Peng 周鹏 and Su Tang 苏糖。
Where do I find media coverage of Geling Yan?
We generally post her latest news items (interviews, profiles, etc.) on her Facebook fan page. Please go to the Facebook link at the bottom of the page, sign on to Facebook and "like" her page. In addition, there was extensive information, including media interviews and synopses, on her former website at Redroom.com, which was abruptly shut down after Red Room was acquired by a competitor. We have archived a great deal of this content at the following media storage address:
Note: MediaFire is currently blocked in China, but if you are interested, please write via the CONTACT form and we can email you a copy of this.
What works has Geling Yan published?
Depending on how you count it, Geling Yan has published thirty books or more. We have attempted to list at least one edition of all of them on the BOOKS tab on this website. In addition, on the BOOKS tab we have placed links to eCommerce sites that sell her books and films, as well as several scholarly books written about her and a couple of books that purport to be her works but aren't. Please use the publications lists as a definitive guide to what she has published. Many of her works have appeared in different editions, but the books published by Beijing United Publishing 北京联合出版社 were published without her knowledge or consent and without compensation to the author. Also, there are works that appear to be her novels, but in some cases they are printed versions of TV scripts she has written and, in one case (Graduation Song 毕业歌), a novelization of a TV script that she wrote, written into novel form by another person while Yan Geling's name was placed on it as the purported author. This was done without Ms. Yan's knowledge and against her repeated protests. Please consult the publication list and use the CONTACTS form if you have any questions as to the legitimacy of a particular publication.
In February 2022 the Yan Geling fan group on WeChat published a comprehensive list of her published works, with book covers, publication data and synopses (in Chinese):
I am interested in translating Ms. Yan's work into my language. Can you help me get it published?
Ms. Yan appreciates the interest her work has generated and the offers to translate her work into languages ranging from German to Sinhalese. Generally, however, it is the publishers decide whether or not to publish a work, and then they find translators who are known to them or to their publishing circles. Since all but one of Ms. Yan's published works were originally written in Chinese, we prefer that any translations be made directly from the Chinese. Translation "on speculation" rarely pays off, but if you have already made a translation of her work into your language, please feel free to contact us through the CONTACT form so we can evaluate it (presuming we or someone we know can read the language in question). If it is a good translation, her agent can try to publish it in the relevant language market. We will see to it that the translator is appropriately compensated. Her work has been translated into nineteen languages, so there may be a book of hers already written in your language that can show publishers a track record in the market.
Could you write, or help me write, my novel/screenplay/autobiography/family story?
Ms. Yan is a creative artist who follows her own vision. Many of her stories she are based on incidents she experienced or heard about years or even decades before that impressed her at the time and that have been gestating in her mind ever since. As works of fiction, the stories and characters all take on a life of their own, often only loosely based on the incidents that inspired them. To make an analogy with another form of creative art, you would not ask a painter to paint your painting for you or to help you paint your own painting. There are books, workshops and courses of study to help people write their own stories and ghostwriters and editors who transfer oral stories to the printed page. We urge you to seek out such resources.
We get this question so often, usually from Chinese people, that it bears repetition in Chinese: 严女士是跟随自己想象力的一位艺术家。她的许多故事基于她几年或甚至几十年前直接或间接所经历过的事件，当时给她留下很深刻的印象，也从此一直在她心中发展。她的故事和人物具有自己的生活，有时候离原来的事件走得很远。用另一种艺术作为比例，你不会求一位画家帮你画你自己的画或替你画你的画。有编辑，代笔人和课程能帮助人把自己的故事写写下来。我们建议大家寻找类似的协助。
I am an actor or actress who would like to be cast in a film or screenplay based on your work. Can you put in a word with the director so that I may be cast in a role?
Ms. Yan sees film and literature as separate artistic creations done by different creative artists. She respects the creative vision of film directors and does not intervene in their decision-making process unless they specifically ask her advice. She is not involved in casting, nor does she wish to become involved. In some cases, particularly with Zhang Yimou, she has been pleasantly surprised, even astounded, by the results of the director’s own casting decisions.
How can I find out about public appearances of Yan Geling?
This Wix website, while very intuitive and easy to use, is far less easy to use than her Facebook fan page. We endeavor to post her public events there, so go and "like" the page for regular updates. (See the Facebook link at the bottom of this page; it will take you to her Facebook fan page.) When Ms. Yan visits China on book or film tours, it is often difficult to keep track of all the events, which may be multiple events per day for an entire week or more. In such instances, doing a regular search of online media is the best way to find out what public events she is appearing at.
Are there any particular causes that Ms. Yan supports?
Ms. Yan through her research has come to feel strongly about the plight of the so-called "comfort women," i.e., women and girls who were forced to serve as sex slaves for the Imperial Japanese Army in World War II. She is not aware of any organized charity that helps former comfort women directly, but a number of human rights groups have taken up their call for justice, for recognition of the wrong done to them, and for an apology on the part of the current Japanese government.