Red Dust Paperback – 2 May 2002
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"Enthralling... He depicts a land of extraordinary physical beauty and interest and his prose is always elegant. Read this book for its human truthfulness and for unforgettable moments" (Daily Telegraph)
"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)
"It opens windows on landscapes small and vast, all still largely unobserved and unknown to Westerners" (Observer)
"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, 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.See all Product description
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The story is a wonderful journey- with lengthy descriptions of places, encounters and reflections of the author while he moves towards West China.
Incredible read that will take you back decades to a life and a society that’s now gone.
It's a book for those of us who want a window onto strange far-off places without having to put up with the insufferable bounciness of most western travel writers.
The reason I gave it 4 rather than 5 stars was because it takes so long before the author actually sets off on his journey and I didn't find his life as an artist in Beijing particularly interesting. Once he hits the road, it becomes considerably more interesting.