Stick Out Your Tongue by Ma Jian

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Tibet is a land lost in the glare of politics and romanticism, and Ma Jian set out to discover its truths. Stick Out Your Tongue is a revelation: a startlingly vivid portrait of Tibet, both enchanting and horrifying, beautiful and violent, seductive and perverse.

In this profound work of fiction, a Chinese writer whose marriage has fallen apart travels to Tibet. As he wanders through the countryside, he witnesses the sky burial of a Tibetan woman who died during childbirth, shares a tent with a nomad who is walking to a sacred mountain to seek forgiveness for sleeping with his daughter, meets a silversmith who has hung the wind-dried corpse of his lover on the wall of his cave, and hears the story of a young female incarnate lama who died during a Buddhist initiation rite. In the thin air of the high plateau, the divide between dream and reality becomes confused.

When this book was published in Chinese in 1997, the government accused Ma Jian of "harming the fraternal solidarity of the national minorities," and a blanket ban was placed on his future work. With its publication in English, including a new afterword by the author that sets the book in its personal and political context, readers get a rare glimpse of Tibet through Chinese eyes--and a window on the imagination of one of China's foremost writers.


About Ma Jian

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MA JIAN was born in Qingdao, China, in 1953. He worked as a watch-mender's apprentice, a painter of propaganda boards, and a photojournalist. In 1987 he wrote Stick Out Your Tongue, a collection of short stories that prompted the Chinese government to ban his future work. Ma Jian left Beijing for Hong Kong in 1987 as a dissident, but he continued to travel to China and supported the pro-democracy activists in Tiananmen Square in 1989. After the handover of Hong Kong, he moved to Germany and then London, where he now lives with his partner and translator, FLORA DREW. He is the author of Red Dust, a travel memoir, and the critically acclaimed novels The Noodle Maker and Beijing Coma.
Published July 24, 2007 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 106 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Stick Out Your Tongue

Kirkus Reviews

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(The old man committed incest with not only his mother, but also his daughter, who lost her mind as a result.) In another story, 15-year-old Sangsang Tashi, designated the reincarnation of a Living Buddha, undergoes her final initiation—standing for three days in a frozen river.

Mar 01 2006 | Read Full Review of Stick Out Your Tongue: Stories

The Guardian

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Stick Out Your Tongue by Ma Jian, translated by Flora Drew 90pp, Chatto & Windus, £10 In one scene in his travel memoir Red Dust, Ma Jian - who has fled Beijing to escape arrest in the Campaign against Spiritual Pollution - describes dining with a doctor and his friends on an owl that they had...

Jan 21 2006 | Read Full Review of Stick Out Your Tongue: Stories

Publishers Weekly

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Ma's five evocative stories concern a young Chinese journalist's travels to the wild plateaus of occupied Tibet in the late 1980s.

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