In 1983, Ma Jian turned 30 and was overwhelmed by the desire to escape the confines of his life in Beijing. With his long hair, jeans and artistic friends, Ma Jian was under surveillance from his work unit and the police, as Deng Xiaoping clamped down on 'Spiritual Pollution'. 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 off 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 tranquillity and beauty. The result is an utterly unique 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.
Ma Jian was born in Qingdao, China in 1953. He is the author of Stick Out Your Tongue, which in 1987 led to the permanent banning of his books in China, Red Dust, winner of the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award 2002, The Noodle Maker, Beijing Coma which narrated the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, and The Dark Road.