Born in 1956 in the small seaside town of Longkou, Shangdong Province, in Mainland China, Zhang Wei spent his early years in a forested area in Shangdong Province. Much under the influence of his family, he began writing at an early age. He published his long poem "Visiting the Bugler" when he was seventeen. In order to escape his family's political difficulties he left home to wander the Shandong peninsula alone for many years. In 1979 he was enrolled in the Chinese Department of Yantai Normal Institute of Shangdong Province to study creative writing. Since then he has published over seventy individual volumes of various kinds of writings, including novels, poems, prose, and essays. A conscientious and assiduous writer, Zhang Wei has shadings of strong romanticism and idealism in addition to a nearly mystical affection for nature.
In 1982 he won his first national literary prize. Since then he has been awarded more than thirty important national and international literary prizes. This has made him one of China's most influential and most prominent authors. In 1987, while serving as vice-chairman of the Shandong Writer's Association and vice-chairman of the United Youth Association, Zhang Wei was appointed vice-mayor of Longkou, the city of his birth. However, not long after that Zhang Wei left the position of his own accord, and moved to live in a small cottage on the outskirts of Longkou. He lived there with his aged mother for over five years. During that time he submerged himself primarily in writing September's Fable, a novel that has significant impact on the Chinese literary scene. Concentrating on writing, Zhang Wei has always avoided publicity and associations. He rarely makes public appearances. Among the heavyweight Chinese authors he is perhaps the only "hermit."
But Zhang Wei has always been the focal point of the Chinese literary scene. Virtually every three or four years since 1984 the Chinese literary circle has had a round of discussion and debate over Zhang Wei and his writings. Given his importance, it would be hard to imagine contemporary Chinese literature without Zhang Wei.