IIAS Newsletter 47 Spring 2008

Individuality, literature and censorship: Gao Xingjiang and China

Bob van der Linden

During a recent visit to China, Bob van der Linden read Gao Xingjiang’s novels: Soul Mountain (1990) and One Man’s Bible (1999). In 2000, Gao was the first Chinese ever to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature. Yet, few of the Chinese van der Linden met knew of Gao’s existence and were surprised to hear that a Chinese had won this prestigious prize. In this essay he looks at why Gao’s work is banned in a country which annually regrets the absence of Chinese among the Nobel Prize winners and, with the 2008 Olympics just months away, is so eager for international recognition as a world civilisation and power.

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