In 1992, The People’s Literature Press launched a series of “finance-themed” novels (caijing xiaoshuo) by the Hong Kong entrepreneur-cum-writer Leung Fung-Yee (1949-). Leung’s novels include erotic stories set against Hong Kong's world of business, and thereby introduced “sensuous and lively” financial knowledge much needed to mainland readers. The resulting “Leung fever” represents a type of Mainland-Hong Kong interaction: the introduction of her works intersected with Deng Xiaoping’s 1992 “southern tour” that heralded the establishment of the socialist market economy; and her popularity also represented Hong Kong’s “northward advance” in which profiteering merchants and venture capitalists expanded their wealth in the mainland and fantasized about the possibility to “Hongkongnize” the mainland.
Regarding novel writing as assembly-line commodity production, the prolific Leung was acclaimed by the mainland writers as an entrepreneurial model who resembled the Maoist labor hero. This presentation crosses the divide between the Maoist and the reform eras and tackles how socialist values embodied by labor heroes were reincarnated into neo-liberal values such as development, productivity, efficiency, and time management. Based on Leung’s novels and reviews of her works by mainland critics, this presentation discusses “Leung Fever” in light of the financialization of everyday life, informationalization of the society, and the emergence of the risk society, all of which led to the formation of entrepreneurial subjectivity in post-Mao China. What constitutes the entrepreneurial subjectivity, I argue, is a roller-coaster ride experience within a quotidian risk world that often erased the difference between investment and gambling.