Vernacular Imagination and Exophone Reconfiguration in Francophone Chinese Diasporic Literature

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book


This chapter approaches the notion of the vernacular from the perspective of French exophone literature written by a group of first-generation Chinese migrant writers in France, such as François Cheng, Dai Sijie, and Shan Sa. While such literary works may be said to embody a displaced articulation of cosmopolitanism through diasporic mobility, they also diegetically engage with the historical development of the vernacular in the Chinese and transnational contexts. The vernacular is thus explored as a novelistic theme, a variety of literary genres, and a linguistic or translingual sensibility. This chapter first historically contextualizes the different vernaculars and vernacular literatures in China, signaling, in particular, the problem of translation and applicability of the term “vernacular” in the Chinese context. It then moves on to explore how the different notions of the vernacular feature in the Franco-Chinese writers’ works and how such notions are also fictionally reconfigured via French and creatively adapted for an international, predominantly francophone and Western readership. In so doing, the chapter highlights the creative tension between literary exoticism and vernacular imagination.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationVernaculars in an Age of World Literatures
EditorsChristina Kullberg, David Watson
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherBloomsbury Academic
Number of pages28
ISBN (Print)9781501374050
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Chinese vernacular
  • exophony
  • Chinese diaspora
  • Franco-Chinese literature
  • François Cheng
  • Dai Sijie
  • Shan Sa


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