Ma Jian was born in Qingdao. in 1953. His education was cut short by the Cultural Revolution, so he educated himself by copying out a Chinese dictionary word by word. He performed various jobs, including working for a propaganda arts troupe before becoming a photojournalist for a magazine. At this time, he was a painter and held secret exhibitions of his paintings. He was detained and, on release, travelled round China selling his paintings and stories. His first work – a novella, 亮出你的舌苔或空空荡荡 (Stick Out Your Tongue ) – was published in People’s Literature magazine but was accused of bourgeois liberalism. All of his work was banned.
He moved to Hong Kong but moved between Beijing and Hong Kong and took part in the democracy protests. After Hong Kong became part of China, he moved to Germany, wehre he taught Chinese literature and then moved to London, wehre he still lives. He has published several well-received novels, many of which have been published in English.
He is not to be confused with the spymaster Ma Jian.
His Twitter page
Chinese dissident novelist Ma Jian on the Cultural Revolution, challenging China and finding a place to call home (talk by Ma Jian)
Ma Jian protest paints the London Book Fair
Ma Jian, Exiled Chinese Novelist, Hails Appearance as Victory for Rights
(Only books translated into English)
1987 亮出你的舌苔或空空荡荡 (Stick Out Your Tongue)
2001 红尘 (Red Dust)
2004 拉面者 (The Noodle Maker)
2008 北京植物人 (Beijing Coma)
2012 阴之道 (The Dark Road)
2018 中国梦 (China Dream) (novel)