CriticasChinese novelist, dramatist, and artist Gao received the 2000 Nobel Prize in literature for, in the word of the Nobel committee, "an oeuvre of universal validity, bitter insights, and linguistic ingenuity, which opened new paths for the Chinese novel and drama." A dissident who challenged Mao's Cultural Revolution, Gao was expelled from China and his books banned after he wrote a play set against the backdrop of the Tiananmen Square massacre. He moved to Paris in the late 1980s, becoming an example of what happens when traditions meld instead of collide. Although essentially Chinese in character, his masterworks-the autobiographical La montana del alma (Soul Mountain, Planeta, 2001) and El libro de un hombre solo (One Man's Bible, Planeta 2002)-offer clear testimony to the influences of Western modernism. A very popular playwright, too, Gao followed in the steps of Bertolt Brecht and Antonin Artaud, adding absurdity and a note of sourness to the literary traditions he inherited from his country. This collection of short, uneventful stories from his entire career showcases the author's literary qualities, which range from Chekhovian comic satire to austere description with contemplation as a method. An enemy of meaning, Gao offers neat, transparent situations that work like paintings, an art he also practices; nature and characters meet in sorrowful circumstances that expose their frailty. Behind the simplicity of Gao's prose lies a skeptical humanist whose gaze and smile a reader can almost see between the lines. Recommended for academic libraries and readers interested in Chinese literature and syncretism. (Other titles by Gao are also available from Ediciones del Bronce.
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