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Red Dust: A Path Through China (2001)

– tekijä: Ma Jian

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
5421433,079 (3.83)35
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.… (lisätietoja)
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» Katso myös 35 mainintaa

englanti (12)  ranska (1)  saksa (1)  Kaikki kielet (14)
Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 14) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
Comparison's to Kerouac's On the Road are unfair. This authors is more sympathetic and takes more interest in the world around him. All the events are believable but whether or not it all happened exactly as described is probably not important. It's not a history book but it offers raw and exciting glimpses of it. ( )
  TeaTimeCoder | Dec 23, 2020 |
Ma Jian’s account of his three-year journey around China is classified as a travel book. But it is most certainly not the typical “best sites,” “best restaurants,” kind of travel book. Instead, Red Dust is a fascinating look at China, especially rural China, at a unique period in history, the early 1980s. This look comes from the point of view of a young man who was one China’s Beat Generation of poets, musicians, artists, and writers which emerged following the end of the Cultural Revolution, Mao’s death, and the Deng Xiaoping “Opening.”

Ma’s life begins to fall apart in Beijing. Ma’s wife divorces him and refuses to allow him to see his daughter. Next, it’s his job that is threatened. He has a good job as a photographer and writer for the government propaganda agency in Beijing. He becomes a target of the Campaign Against Spiritual Pollution when he publishes photos showing a bridge with flaking paint on it. Only photos showing China in its best light are acceptable to his bosses. He chooses the color yellow to illustrate one of his documents, a color his bosses and the Campaign associate with pornography. The bosses also criticize him for sloppy dress, long hair, and for spending all his free time with fellow artists and poets. He is detained for a brief time. Ma sees the writing on the wall. He flees Beijing with a few yuan and a forged letter of introduction. He learns later that thousands were arrested and hundreds executed during the Campaign so he knows that he made the right decision to abandon his life in the capital.

He travels around China and experiences directly the red dust of life, a phrase from Buddhist writings that describes the human state of so often being lost in confusion and despair. His travels are extensive, from the deserts in the northwest to the lush mountainous valleys of the southeast where several ethnic minorities live. He experiences starvation and violence and near death more than once. His travel commentary gives the reader a great opportunity to learn about China during this time period. For example, in the northwest, he meets a young man searching for his sister who has been abducted and forced into marriage with a farmer in an isolated village. She is chained to the bed so she cannot run away. She contacts her brother and begs for help. There are many examples in this book of an intimate look into the lives of common people in this time of transition in the life of the Middle Kingdom.

We also come to know Ma as a young man adrift. He is lonely, confused about the meaning of life, a young man who misses his friends and the sexual companionship of women. He has the urge to create that we see in artists, but he doesn’t know the meaning of why he does what he does, or of his relationships, or much of anything else. His wandering is in the world and also in his soul. He ends this tale of his journey in Tibet. It is there that he decides that he values Buddhist teachings, but that the Buddha has not entered his heart in a way that he had hoped. And communism is no alternative for him at all.

After his epic journey documented in Red Dust, Ma makes his way to Hong Kong and then travels back and forth between Hong Kong and Beijing. After the handover of Hong Kong from Britain to China in 1997, he moves to Germany to teach, then to the U.K. where he becomes a citizen. When in Hong Kong he meets China expert Flora Drew who becomes his translator and life partner. They have four children and live in London. Ma Jian’s books are banned in China. ( )
  C.J.Shane | Dec 19, 2019 |
Lotta press blurb comparisons to On The Road. I dunno, haven't read it. Most of the characters were writers/artists but hard to keep track of everyone. Goes a bit into some of the cultural sides of the non-Han Chinese, which mostly came across pretty dark ( )
  pizzadj2 | May 27, 2019 |
What an amazing book! Ma Jian is a Beijing photographer who flees Beijing just ahead of a smallish cultural purge in the 1980s. He's travelling not just to to escape the politics, but to escape his discontent with his love life and work life. He's off to find himself, and to find the real China. He travels in alarmingly precarious ways, nearly kills himself getting lost in deserts and jungles. He survives by doing small art works or selling souvenirs, or relying on the kindness of strangers and old friends.

It's a fascinating view into a very different world. At times it's hard to get into, Ma can seem callous and unsympathetic on first glance, but his love for the people of his huge, sprawling, complex country is a constant background glow. ( )
  cajela | Jan 16, 2011 |
Really enjoyed this. An interesting book, I wasn't sure as to what to expect. Ma Jian decides to go on the road after his inspiration had gone and the chances he would be picked up again was getting higher each day. His trip turns into a 3 year trek around the vast country of China, and into Chinese controlled Tibet. The book is the combination of a narrative and notes made from the trip.

His commentary is good, the people he met a good cross-section of Chinese (and minority) society. I especially enjoyed his forays into Tibet and Yunnan province.

I would thoroughly recommend this book. ( )
1 ääni soffitta1 | Jan 9, 2011 |
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Englanninkielinen Wikipedia

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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.

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