Thursday, May 10, 2012

Five top books of Chinese dissident literature

Ma Jian's novels include Beijing Coma, set during the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, and The Noodle Maker.

With Alec Ash of the The Browser, he discussed five notable examples of Chinese dissident literature, including:
One Man’s Bible
by Gao Xingjian

Gao Xingjian is a Chinese-born writer who lives in Paris and won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2000. Please introduce One Man’s Bible for us.

Gao Xingjian finished One Man’s Bible in the nineties, in Hong Kong. We talked continuously while he was writing it. In this novel, we read about how an average man experienced the Cultural Revolution. The Cultural Revolution had a huge impact on Gao Xingjian, and it’s an experience which speaks to many people in China. By reading One Man’s Bible, anyone can empathise with that experience. He combines reality, history and literature very well.

Gao Xingjian is also an exiled writer. If he was in China, he wouldn’t be able to write this book. Of course, [writers inside China such as] Yu Hua and Mo Yan can also write about the Cultural Revolution, but the Cultural Revolution they write about is not the Cultural Revolution Gao Xingjian writes about, because they are subject to state censorship.
Read about the other books on the list.

Ma Jian's Beijing Coma is among Colin Thubron's 6 favorite books about Asia and Catherine Sampson's top 10 books on Beijing; it made the Wall Street Journal's list of Asia's best books of 2008.

--Marshal Zeringue