11 December 2007

Ma Jian, Stick Out Your Tongue, 1987

Ma Jian is now living in London as a result of these short stories that were immediately banned on publication in China, and serves as a Tibetan counterpart to his award-winning Chinese travelogue Red Dust. This memorable collection is like an examination of Tibet’s spiritual malaise in urgent need of diagnosis, hence the title. As a lone Chinese traveller in Tibet Ma was the outsider, but in these brief fictions he also portrays modern Tibetans as outsiders to their own cultural history: they are harsh, raw and dehumanising vignettes of the consequences of poverty in Tibetan life, yet they are narrated with a degree of unflinching calm that often suggests an autobiographical witness that is hard to argue with or question. Excellent.   PY

  Stick Out Your Tongue was shortlisted for the 2007 Kiriyama Prize for fiction.

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