A Journey into the City
Migrant Workers’ Relation with the Urban Space and Struggle for Existence in Xu Zechen’s Early jingpiao Fiction
In contemporary China, rural-urban migrants constitute a new urban subject with entirely new identity-related issues. This study aims at demonstrating how literature can be a valid field in investigating such evolving subjectivities, through an analysis of Xu Zechen’s early novellas depicting migrants’ vicissitudes in Beijing. Combining a close reading of the texts and a review of the main social problems characterising rural-urban migration in China, this paper focuses on the representation of the identity crisis within the migrant self in Xu’s stories, taking into account the network of meanings employed by the writer to signify the objective and subjective tension between the city and the countryside.