Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Red Dust - A Path Through China by Ma Jian
In 1983, at the age of thirty, dissident artist Ma Jian finds himself divorced by his wife, separated from his daughter, betrayed by his girlfriend, facing arrest for “Spiritual Pollution,” and severely disillusioned with the confines of life in Beijing. So with little more than a change of clothes and two bars of soap, Ma takes off to immerse himself in the remotest parts of China. His journey would last three years and take him through smog-choked cities and mountain villages, from scenes of barbarity to havens of tranquility.
Remarkably written and subtly moving, the result is an insight into the teeming contradictions of China that only a man who was both insider and outsider in his own country could have written.
I have high expectation of this book. I shouldn't have.
However, having said that, it's was a nice companion for me during a recent work travel. While I travel in the comfort of trains, cabs and planes, Ma Jian travels by foot, buses and whatever means that he can through deserts and mountains. While I enjoyed the delicious company paid meals, Ma Jian have tea, grubs and whatever that was offered to him during this travel and whatever can salvage or buys.
I read how he had to sleep in the tree when he was lost in the jungle or out on the field in the dessert when he took a wrong turn whereas I was in the comfort of the five stars hotel room that I was put up in.
I should perhaps not have expectations but have gratitude instead.