Feng Tang

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Feng Tang
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Born
Haipeng Zhang

(1971-05-13) May 13, 1971 (age 50)
Beijing, China
NationalityChinese
CitizenshipChina
Education
  • PhD
  • MBA
Alma mater
  • Peking Union Medical College
  • Emory University
Occupation
  • Novelist
  • Poet
  • Private equity investor
  • Archaic Jade and china Collector
Spouse(s)Wang Jin
Parent(s)Zhang Guangliang, Liang Guilan

Feng Tang (born May 13, 1971) whose real name is Haipeng Zhang, is a Chinese contemporary novelist, poet, archaic jade and china collector, and private equity investor.

Life and career

Feng Tang was born on May 13, 1971, in Beijing, China. He lived in ChuiYangLiu, where was referred frequently in his works, for his childhood and teenage. The young Feng Tang studied in Beijing No.80 High School from 1984 until 1990. After finishing high school, he attended Peking Union Medical College and earned a doctoral degree in clinical medicine with a specialisation in gynaecological oncology in 1998. Two years later, he graduated from Emory Goizueta Business school’s MBA program with scholarship and joined McKinsey & Company.

In 2001, when Feng Tang was 30 years old and freshly graduated from his MBA program, his first book “Everything Grows” [1]was published in China. During the next years, he continuously worked and published some novels, short stories, poetries, and essays, included his first trilogy “The Beijing Trilogy”,[2] which is one of his most famous works. In 2005, he earned the third People’s Literature Award,[3] established by People’s Literature Magazine, the most iconic literature magazine in China.

In 2010, his novel “Oneness”[4] was published in Hong Kong and gained a wider recognition for his literary talents. The book broke the sales record in Hong Kong at the time, and the media humorously proclaimed that “from now on, Hong Kong’s publishing industry relies on Feng Tang”. In 2012, Feng Tang was listed at the top of the “Top 20 under 40 future literature masters in China”,[5] a onetime list issued by People’s Literature magazine.

While working as a full-time business professional, Feng Tang need to work over 80 hours per week, he had no time to write even ideas teeming in his mind. However, the aspiration for literary pursuits motivated him continued to write in his tiny rest time. In 2014, his another novel “No Woman, No Cry”[6] was published and has made a hit in Hong Kong and Mainland China again.

In July 2014, Feng Tang felt he needed to learn how to slow down and to live in quietness, he resigned from CR Healthcare and got a short residence in California, while he was approached by Zhejiang Literature and Arts Publishing House to re-translate Tagore’s Stray Birds in Chinese. The book received a huge controversy and criticism[7] when published in 2015 and finally has been taken down from the shelves a few months later. Nonetheless, Feng Tang believed his translation better reflects contemporary Chinese language, and history and literature will make their judgments.[8]

In early of 2015, Feng Tang backed to Beijing and joined an investment company as a senior management director. In addition to being a professional, he paid more attention on his literature development. In 2017, the Guomai Publishing House hold autograph seminars for Feng Tang throughout China and attracted crowds of fans. He began to attend online programmes and collaborated with others to conduct several calligraphy exhibitions from 2017 to 2020.

In 2019, Feng Tang was named by the GQ magazine as one of the most influential authors in the past ten years, and he was rated as the author with the best-selling record of all time by Dangdang.com, the most famous online book selling website in China. In the same year, his latest work “Getting Things Done”[9] came out, and later in 2020, Feng Tang was asked to create a series of online audio lectures based on the book. Recently, Feng Tang has been nominated and selected as the 2020 recipient of Emory University’s Sheth Distinguished International Alumni Award. He is being more popular and influential, and someone who will be remembered for many years to come.

Written works

Novels

Feng Tang is best known for his novels “Beijing Trilogy” and “Oneness”. In his novels, Feng Tang has a persisting interest in the dynamics of libido and the anima image, employing them as guiding tools in his exploration of the human experience. These themes, although explored by earlier Chinese writers, have been to a certain degree unheeded in the modern era. These recurrent themes have conditioned his unique style of writing, which ranges from exaggerated, rebellious, and even at times obscene, elegant and poetic. Despite the contrast, he maintains a tasteful balance and commands a singular artistic vision throughout his books. His distinctive style is so recognizable and often imitated that it has been dubbed by the public: the “Feng Tang Ti”.

His “Beijing Trilogy” is a series of autobiographical novels dealing with his childhood, teenage years, early adulthood and beyond. The first book of the trilogy (chronologically the second book in the series but published first) “Everything Grows” was published in 2001. The book was later adapted into a film in 2015,[10] starring some of China’s top actors such as Fan Bingbing and Han Geng. In 2007, the book was translated and published in French. The next book, “Give Me a Girl at Age Eighteen”[11] was published in 2005 and was later adapted into a 21-episode drama by Youku,[12] China’s largest video steaming provider. It was translated and published in French and Italian in 2009 and 2020 respectively. The last book of the trilogy “ Beijing, Beijing” [13]was published in 2007. In 2017 the book was adapted into a 40-episode drama series[14] and aired in July. By the end of the year, the show had received 6 billion views, one of the most viewed shows in China that year. In 2015, "Beijing, Beijing" was translated and published in English.

“Oneness” (the Buddhist concept of “non-dualism”) was published in 2011, subverted the stories of historical figures from the Tang dynasty in a tale of sexually adventurous monks, nuns, and poets. It created an instant phenomenon as people rushed to bookstores to get a copy and became the best-selling novel in HK publishing history.

The other novels included “歡喜”,[15] and “No Woman, No Cry”, which was published in 2007 and 2014 respectively. “歡喜” was wrote when Feng Tang was seventeen. It is a school life story set in Beijing in the late eighties and talking about various adolescent behaviours in the high school. “No Woman, No Cry” describes the luxurious life of a biotech company C.E.O., and his efforts to write a unique book entitled on Everything.

Poems

Feng Tang always put himself as a poet, although he is often considered as one of the finest novelists of this generation. He wrote almost 800 poems, most of them relatively short. He created a new style of writing poems, which advocated to express by using very concise and refined wordings.

Feng Tang’s first collection of poetry, “馮唐詩百首”,[16] was published in 2011 and collected 100 poems, included the highly acclaimed poem “Spring (春)”.[17] His best-known poems are probably those dealing with nature and love. “不三” is his other work on poetry in 2018. It collected 305 poetries, and each poetry comprised by 3 sentences.

In 2015, he collaborated with his DJ friend YangCheng. They selected almost fifty passages from Feng Tang’s novels, poetries, essays and declaimed by YangCheng to conduct a book with CD, which called “吟詩”.[18] Four new poetries have been collected in this book as well.

Feng Tang was invited to translate the Tagore’s Stray Birds in Chinese in August of 2014. However, he was being widely criticized in the media when the book published in 2015. His critics thought Feng Tang has overstepped as a translator by sexing up Tagore’s soft-toned poems and strayed too far from the original text. Feng Tang insisted the spirit of translation is to break the stiff-necked of habit and continuously making innovations. He believes the most important role for artists is to destroy the old world and create a new one. After four years, the book was re-published by Cosmos Books in Hong Kong.

Short stories

Feng Tang’s best-known collection of short stories include “天下卵”[19] and “So Insane”. “天下卵” published in 2012 and changed the title as “安陽” when re-published in 2017. The book includes eight short stories, dealing with the materials from history, fairy tale, and reality. “天下卵”, “So Insane” and “Oneness” have been formed as a new trilogy named “supernatural trilogy”.

“So Insane”[20] assembles eight short stories: “ In Your Twenties”, “On Masturbation is One Type of Sport”, “Perfect Enlightenment”, “The Duck Man”, “Fifty One Spotlights”, “The Clitoris Yoga Master”, “The Twilight Chef”, and “All Kinds of Plants in This World are Beautiful”. In November of 2015, Feng Tang hosted a TV show “Sou Shen Ji” [21]and interviewed 13 distinctive figures in China from different industries. In 2017, “So Insane” was published based on the show. The book just like a supernatural story collection, but characters in this book are real people, troubled by their own emotions or facing some kinds of dilemma in life, their “insanity” or superpower described in the book, comes from their bodies and sensual instincts. Feng Tang believes the sensual instinct of a human being has unlimited potentials, which will never be replaced by artificial intelligence.

Essays

In 2005, Feng Tang published his first collection of essay “豬和蝴蝶”[22] and earned the award from People’s Literature Magazine. Over the next few years, other seven collections of essays, includes “活著活著就老了”,[23] “How to Become a Monster”,[24] “三十六大”,[25] “在宇宙間不易被風吹散”,[26] “無所畏”,[27] “春風十里不如你”,[28] Getting Things Done has been published continuously. Feng Tang had a real feeling for literature, and he could impart his own passion with an admirable fluency. Most of his essays can strike a sympathetic resonance in reader’s heart and mind, and bring influencing trends, such as his acclaimed essay "如何避免成為一個油膩的中年猥瑣男",[29] created a sensation when published in 2017.

Calligraphy

In China’s literary tradition, authorship and penmanship go hand in hand. Feng Tang has stayed loyal to this tradition. In July 2017, his calligraphy work “觀花止” debuted an art exhibition “夢筆生花---當代語境中的人文藝術”[30] in Beijing, accompanied by works of many famous Chinese artists and writers, including Nobel Laureate Mo Yan.

In April 2018, Feng Tang met famous Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki and the two artists collaborated on an calligraphy exhibition called “ 書道不二”.[31]

In December 2019 and January 2020, Feng Tang’s private exhibition “馮唐樂園”[32] was hold in Beijing and Shanghai respectively. The exhibition comprised six scenes and interpreted by calligraphy, photograph and lamplight to create a unique experience for audiences.

In March 2020, the famous luxury brand and pen manufacturer Mont Blanc collaborated with Feng Tang and created Mont Blanc Feng Tang Font,[33] which will be used in all of Mont Blanc’s Chinese publishing marketing materials.

Business

In addition to being an artist, Feng Tang is also a successful business professional. After earning his MBA degree from Emory university, he began his business career as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company in 2000, and in a record time of six years, he rose to the level of global partner.

Feng Tang worked at McKinsey for 9 years before joining CR healthcare in 2011 as the founding CEO. His mission was to build China’s largest corporate-managed hospital network with the most advanced management and medical capabilities, seeing this as a way to provide better healthcare service to all, and to revolutionize China’s mostly state-owned medical industry. The company expanded rapidly under his management, conducted many trailblazing projects in reforming state owned hospitals, and started a trend in the investment of private medical institutions in China as the company’s strategy was showing great promise for investors. One of the projects, the structural reform of Kunming Children’s Hospital, stands as the textbook example on reformation and privatization of public hospitals in China to this day.[34]

From 2015, Feng Tang moved his career to investment, again, focusing on the healthcare industry, and became the senior managing director of CITIC Capital.[35] Trained as a clinical doctor, Feng Tang aspired to improved China’s healthcare system, and through his continuous effort over the past two decades, he has made many contributions in growing and reforming China’s healthcare sector. He was a pioneer in reforming and privatizing state-owned hospitals, vastly improving their efficiency and service quality.

Influence

Feng Tang’s dual identity of an artist and a competent business leader struck a chord in the Chinese psyche. On one level, he is an inspiration for many who have a regular career and at the same time aspire in creative and artistic pursuits. On a deeper and more cultural level, Feng Tang is perhaps the only person in China’s recent memory who reflects the age-old image of the ideal gentlemen in Chinese tradition; one who is devoted in worldly pursuits (Confucianism) and more importantly cultivates his artistical, philosophical, and spiritual virtues (Taoism and Buddhism). For this reason, Feng Tang become a cultural icon and an influencer in China.

As an influencer, Feng Tang frequently publishes essays and anecdotes on social media. He has over 9 million followers on Weibo,[36] one of the most important Chinese social media websites. Feng Tang has been a columnist for GQ magazine in China for nine years, during which time his articles appeared in every issue of the magazine, and his portrait even appeared on the cover once.[37] Through these articles, he promotes a more mindful lifestyle, a more naturalistic and contained aesthetics, and a better appreciation of everyday events and objects. He even provides an advice for relationships, careers, and overcoming obstacles in life, with style and humour. When his latest work “Getting Things Done”, a book on self-management, team management, and achieving continual success in business, came out in 2019, it was well received by the public. Later in 2020, Feng Tang was asked to create a series of online audio lectures based on the book, which quickly reached over one million plays.[38]

Feng Tang in the media

  

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