Early life and writing
Zhu Wen was born in 1967 in Quanzhou City, Fujian Province. He attended Southeast University in Nanjing, and graduated with a degree in electric power. After working in a state-owned thermal power plant for five years, he quit his job in 1994 to become a freelance writer.
His first published short story, ''I Love Dollars'', was denounced by some critics as the "shameless and indecent novel of a hooligan."
In 1998, he instigated and became identified with the ''Rupture'' movement to voice dissatisfaction with the literary establishment. He sent questionnaires to about 70 writers, about 55 of which responded. The responses were sarcastic and mostly expressed discontent, and later spawned publications that nurtured more independence among writers.
In an introduction to Zhu Wen's short stories, the translator Julia Lovell characterized his 'trademark narrative style' as "a loosely punctuated, first-person voice in which speech, both direct and indirect, run on within sentences of descriptive prose, designed to capture the unceremonious, free-flowing rhythms of action and dialogue in contemporary China."
As a writer, he was labeled as part of a 'newly-born generation' movement.
He began writing short stories and novellas in 1991.
He has written the following novellas:
* ''I Love Dollars''《我爱美元》
* ''A Boat Crossing''《三生修得同舟渡》
* ''A Hospital Night'' 《幸亏这些年有了一点钱》
* ''Wheels'' 《把穷人统统打昏》
* ''Ah, Xiao Xie''《小谢啊小谢》
His only novel-length work is ''What is Garbage, What is Love''. .
A selection of his short stories were translated by Julia Lovell and published by Columbia University Press in January 2007.
Zhu decided to direct a movie in 2000. He has said that most of the directors he admires come from Continental Europe and Russia, including Andrei Tarkovsky.
He is considered a member of the Sixth Generation of Chinese film makers. His first movie was '''', about a policeman and prostitute's friendship in Beidaihe. It won the Grand Jury Prize at the 58th Venice Film Festival. It cost about 300,000RMB to produce.
His second film, ''South of the Clouds'' , was awarded the NETPAC Prize at the Berlin Film Festival and won 'Asia's Best New Director Prize' at the Shanghai International Film Festival, sharing the prize and half of the 150,000RMB prize with a Thai director.
He explained the title referred to desires that cannot be fulfilled.
It cost about 100,000RMB to produce.
Zhu has also been highly critical of some of the , saying of Zhang Yimou and Chen Kaige, "They're successful directors, but they're not good directors."