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|Format:||Paperback, 336 pages|
|Other Information: ||maps|
|Published In: ||United Kingdom, 02 May 2002|
In 1983, Ma Jian turned 30 and was overwhelmed by the desire to escape the confines of his life in Beijing. All aroun him, china was changing. Deng Xiaoping was introducing economic reform but clamping down on "spiritual pollution"; young people were rebelling. With his long hair, denim jeans and artistic friends, Ma Jian was under surveillance from his work unit and the police. His ex-wife was seeking custody of their daughter; his girlfriend was sleeping with another man; and he could no longer find the inspiration to write or paint. One day he bought a train ticket to the westernmost border of China and set of in search of himself. Ma Jian's journey would last three years and take him to deserts and overpopulated cities, from scenes of barbarity to havens of tranquility and beauty. The result is an insight into the teeming contradictions of China that only a man who was both an insider and an outsider in his own country could have written.
About the Author
Ma Jian was born in Qingdao, China in 1953. He worked as a watchmender's apprentice and a painter of propaganda boards. Later he was assigned the job of photojournalist for a state-run magazine. Aged 30, he left work and travelled for three years across China - a journey later described in his book Red Dust, winner of the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award. He left Beijing for Hong Kong in 1987 but continued to travel to China, notably to support the pro-democracy activists in Tiananmen Square in 1989. After the hand-over of Hong Kong he moved to Germany and then London, where he now lives. Vintage have also published his novels, The Noodle Maker and Beijing Coma, as well as his story collection about Tibet, Stick Out Your Tongue, the book which prompted the Chinese government to ban Ma Jian's work and which set him on the road to exile.
Lots of Chinese women have given us their stories - now a young man writes about his disillusion with the Communist system and an extraordinary journey that he made around China in search of himself and his country.
Although billed as a travelog, this perceptive memoir represents a spiritual as much as a geographical journey. In the early 1980s, Jian, a writer, poet, painter, and photographer, became dispirited with his work and personal life in Beijing and set out on a three-year voyage across some of China's most remote areas in an attempt to learn about himself by learning more about his homeland. On the journey through China to Tibet, he visited mountains, deserts, lakes, Buddhist monasteries, a leprosy camp, overpopulated cities, and small villages, encountering unusual as well as straightforward characters along the way. This book, which has not been published in China, is an attempt to portray post-Mao China as seen through the eyes of a wandering man. And the one-man viewpoint interwoven throughout is certainly an important part of its appeal. Clearly not a conventional travel book for tourists contemplating a trip to China, this insightful and heartfelt rendition of China's far-flung landscapes is recommended for all libraries, especially those with specialized collections on China and Asia. Melinda Stivers Leach, Precision Editorial Svcs., Wondervu, CO Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
"Red Dust is a tour de force, a powerfully picaresque cross between the sort of travel book any Western author would give his eye-teeth to write, and a disturbing confession" Independent 20020612 "Enthralling" Daily Telegraph 20020612 "His narrative is blessed with a prose style that compresses meaning as succinctly as Chinese calligraphy" The Times 20020612 "Honest, raw, insightful... The Chinese equivalent of On the Road" Time "[Ma's] powers of description make every page buzz with life... Someone who could rank among the great travel writers" New York Times Book Review
In 1983, squirming under constant government scrutiny and mourning a failed marriage, writer and photographer Jian abandons his home in Beijing to journey to China's western border with little more than a change of clothes, two bars of soap, a notebook, a camera and Whitman's Leaves of Grass. It is the beginning of an arduous three-year voyage that takes him not only through little-traveled regions of China, Myanmar and Tibet, but through a careful examination of what it means to be a Buddhist, to live in post-Mao China and to exist in his own skin. A skilled storyteller, Jian narrates in prose that is spare and often beautiful his encounters with people who live in a region that "even today... is a place of banishment, populated by political prisoners, descendents of Turkic migrants, and the ghosts of buried cities." From the night he spends crammed under a bus seat next to a pile of dirty socks and clucking hens to his escape from Chinese militiamen who mistake him for a Burmese spy, Jian tells a powerful story that is no mere travelogue. Indeed, his journey exposes him to so many risks getting bitten by sheepdogs in the grasslands along the Yellow River, drinking foul lake water that knocks him unconscious that the sheer number of life-threatening incidents begins to dull their impact. Still, Jian offers a revealing, riveting portrait of a Chinese citizen who seeks truth and honesty in a society in which such a quest can be grounds for punishment. (Nov.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
|Dimensions: ||19.0 x 12.0 x 2.0 centimeters (0.23 kg)|