Wong Meng Voon
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Wong Meng Voon (b. 27 July 1937, Perak, Malaya -), pen name Meng Yi, is one of Singapore's most well known Chinese authors. He is most known for his mini-fiction and is currently active in promoting the Chinese mini-novel form to the world through his creative writings and critical studies.
Wong's family was forced to relocate to Pahang during the Japanese invasion in 1941. He started his elementary education in Malaya during 1946. At a tender age of 10, he began reading classical Chinese novels, and at 17 he began reading English books. His interest in reading books of both languages helped lay the foundation for his bilingualism.
In 1958, he moved to Singapore and studied at Nanyang University's Faculty of Chinese. After receiving his PhD from the University of Washington in the United States in 1975, he returned to Singapore and worked in the civil service for several years before joining the private sector in 1983. His overseas and working experiences proved to be enriching resources for his short stories and resulted in a change of his writing style. Thus, many commentators view his return from America as an important turning point in his writing career.
1962 : Bachelor of Arts, Nanyang University, Singapore
1966 : Bachelor of Arts (Honours), Nanyang University, Singapore
1968 : Masters of Arts, University of Singapore, Singapore
1975 : Doctor of Philosophy, University of Washington, Seattle, United States of America
Wong started writing short stories at the young age of 16 and became well versed in fiction writing, especially in the form of mini-fiction. Several of Wong's works were translated into various languages. For example, Glimpses of the Past was translated into Tagalog, When I Meet Huilan Again into Japanese and The Official's Chair into Malay.
Two of his earliest short-story compilations, When I Meet Huilan Again (1968) and I Want to Live (1970) were very well received when they were first published. These two short-story compilations, representative of his earlier writing style, were full of compassion for the underprivileged in local society. However, the publication of The Happy Nest (1991) after his return from America marked a distinct change in his writing style. His works were more reflective of the global society while his writing style became more distant and satirical. Wong explained that this change in writing style was inevitable as his life experiences made him realize that human nature was not as beautiful as he imagined it to be. He found it difficult to continually sing praises of human nature and thus chose such a satirical tone for his writings.
Besides writing fiction, Wong has been actively supporting the development of the Singapore Chinese literary circle and promoting the genre of mini-fiction. Before he left for America in 1970, Wong established the Singapore Association of Writers together with fellow Singapore writers. Upon his return in 1976, he became the Association's president and remained in position for 20 years. He has also assumed various positions such as Vice-President of the Asian Chinese Writers Association and President of the World Chinese Writers Association (Singapore Branch), and have taken research positions with Nanyang Technological University's Centre for Chinese Language and Culture and China's Guangdong Zhanjiang Normal University. He is also a member of Singapore's National Art Council Arts Advisory Panel since 2002. Currently, he is the Honorary President of the Singapore Association of Writers and the Charter President of the World Chinese Mini Fiction Research Association.
He has published essays, written academic research papers, edited literary magazines and compiled several anthologies that showcase the works of Singapore authors. One of the most significant works which he edited is A Preliminary Study of the History of Singapore Chinese Literature, published in 2002. This book, which took nearly nine years to complete, studies the Chinese literary scene in Singapore from 1919 to 1995 and is arguably the first work that documents the development of Singapore Chinese literature systematically.
After his retirement in 2000, he started teaching modern Chinese literature and Singapore and Malaysian Chinese literature at Singapore tertiary education institutions such as National University of Singapore's Department of Chinese and Singapore Institute of Management. Currently, Wong is still very active in creative writing and in academic research on mini-fiction. He often represents Singapore at literary conferences worldwide.
Wong has also received various awards that recognise his efforts and accomplishments in the literary field.
1968 : Zai Jian Huilan De Shi Hou [When I Meet Huilan Again]
1970 : Wo Yao Huo Xia Qu [I Want to Live]
1971 : Song Dai Bai Hua Xiao Shuo Yan Jiu [A Study of Short Stories and Novels of Sung Dynasty].
1980 : Xin Ma Wen Yi Cong Lun [Essays on Singapore and Malaysia's Chinese Literature]
1981 : Glimpses of the Past: Stories from Singapore and Malaysia
1989 : Sulyap sa lumipas: mga kuwento mula sa Singapore at Malaysia [Glimpses of the Past: Stories from Singapore and Malaysia]
1991 : An Le Wo [The Happy Nest]
1993 : Chao Yang Cong Wo Shen Bian Lue Guo [The Sun Brushes Against Me]
1994 : Xue Fu Xia Dong [The Ups and Downs of an Institute].
1995 : Huang Mengwen Wen Ji [A Collection of Wong Meng Voon's Writings]
1996 : Huang Mengwen Wei Xing Xiao Shuo Xuan Ping [A Collection of Mini Fiction and Commentaries by Wong Meng Voon]
1996 : Xin Hua Wen Xue Ping Lun Ji [A Collection of Essays on Singapore's Chinese Literature
1997 : A! Dong Fang Cheng Shi [Ah, the Oriental City!]
2004 : Huang Mengwen Wei Xing Xiao Shuo [A Collection of Micro Novels by Wong Meng Voon]
2007 : Huang Mengwen Zhong Pian Xiao Shuo Zi Xuan Ji [A Self-Collection of Short Stories by Wong Meng Voon]
2007 : Wei Xing Xiao Shuo Wei Xing Lun [A Study on Mini Fiction].
2008 : Xin Hua Wen Xue.Shi Hua Wen Xue Ping Lun Yu Shi Liao Xuan Ji [Singapore Chinese Literature and World Chinese Literature - Selected Essays
and Historical Materials]
2008 : Huang Mengwen Wei Xing Xiao Shuo Zi Xuan Ji [A Self-Collection of Mini Fiction by Wong Meng Voon]
1951 : Literary Award (Novel), Ma Yi (Ant magazine), Penang, Malaysia
1958 : Literary Award (Novel), Nanyang University Chinese Society, Singapore
1978 : Translation Prize, National Book Development Council of Singapore, Singapore
1981 : Cultural Medallion (Literature), Singapore
1981 : South-East Asia Writer Award, Thailand
1994 : Special Literary Award (Prose), Beijing Radio, China
1996 : Literary Award (Prose), Top China magazine, China
2008 : Whole-Life Accomplishment on World Chinese Mini-Fiction Award, World Chinese Mini-fiction Research Association
Wife : Wong married his ex-Nanyang University classmate Tan Hua Sok (Chen Huashu) in 1964
Daughter : Wong Yin Wei
Son : Wong Kai Yan
Tan Chee Lay
Lai,S. H. (Ed.). (2002). Huang Mengwen de wei xing xiao shuo shi jie. Xinjiapo: Shi jie hua wen wei xing xiao shuo yan jiu hui.
(Call no.: RSING Chinese C813.4004 HMW)
Lai, S. H. (2004). Xinjiapo hua wen wei xing xiao shuo shi (pp. 39 44). Xinjiapo: Ling zi chuan mei.
(Call no.: RSING Chinese C813.4009 LSH)
Shi, C. (1997). Huang Mengwen ping zhuan. Xinjiapo: Uni Press.
(Call no.: RSING Chinese C810.092 SC)
Wong, M. V. (1991). An le wo. Xinjiapo: Xinjiapo zuo jia xie hui, Xin ya chu ban she.
(Call no: RSING Chinese C813.4 HMW)
Wong, M. V. (2008). Huang Mengwen wei xing xiao shuo zi xuan ji. Shanghai: Shanghai Wen Yi Chu Ban She.
(Call no.: RSING Chinese C813.4 HMW)
Wong, M. V. (1996). Xin hua wen xue ping lun ji. Xinjiapo: Yun Nan Yuan Ya She
(Call no.: RSING Chinese C810.095957 HMW)
Wong M. V. (2007). Wei xing xiao shuo wei xing lun. Xinjiapo: Shi Jie Hua Wen Wei Xing Xiao Shuo Yan Jiu Hui
(Call no.: RSING Chinese C813.4004 HMW)
The information in this article is valid as at 2009 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.
Personalities>>Biographies>>Authors>>Cultural Medallion Recipients
Huang, Mengwen, 1937-
Language and literature>>Literatures>>East and Southeast Asian literature>>Chinese literature>>Chinese fiction