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Gao Xingjian
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    (January 4, 1940- )
    Born in Ganzhou, China
    Dramatist and novelist
    Wrote the plays ‘Signal Alarm’ (1982), ‘Bus Stop’ (1983), ‘Savages’ (1985), ‘The Other Shore’ (1986), ‘Fugitives’ (1990), ‘A Tale of Shan Hai Jing’ (1992), and ‘Snow in August’ (2000)
    Wrote the novels ‘Soul Mountain’ (1989) and ‘One Man’s Bible’ (1999)
    Left China as a political refugee (1987)
    Became a French citizen (1998)
    Awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature (2000)
    Name pronounced ‘gow shing-jen’
    He had an inside track to the Nobel Prize: his Swedish translator Goran Malmqvist is also a member of the Swedish Academy, the institution that awards the Prize.
    After he collapsed twice and had to have heart surgery, he blamed it on the stress from winning the Nobel Prize.
    He described the publicity from winning as ‘like being caught up in a storm.’
    He said he never read anything by Mo Yan, the only other Chinese winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature.
    He was sent to a reeducation camp during the Cultural Revolution and spent nearly six years at hard labor.
    He translated works by fellow absurdist playwrights Samuel Beckett and Eugene Ionesco.
    He is a good enough painter to have had exhibitions of his works.
    His plays were banned in China after he responded to the Tiananmen Square protests by condemning the government crackdown on French television and publicly renouncing his membership in the Communist Party (1989).
    He refused when an American theater company wanted to revise ‘Fugitives’ to make the characters more traditionally heroic: ‘Even the Chinese Communist Party couldn’t make me change a play. Why should I accept correction from America?’

Credit: C. Fishel

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