From Gao XingJian’s Parisian Notes

Gao XingJian

Gao XingJian (高行健) is a Chinese playwright, literary translator, screenwriter, director, painter and novelist. In 2000 he won the Nobel Prize for Literature, becoming the first native born Chinese to win the prize (Pearl S. Buck doesn’t count).

Gao is an eccentric motherfucker, and I love him for that. I dig his paintings (google ’em), but his writing sometimes gets on my nerves, especially when veers into an affected avant-garde ‘tude, a turtle-neck-wearing ‘let’s drip words like paint and call it art’ sort of stance. I don’t much like that.

But he’s suffered for his art. Taken the censorship beatdown when he lived in China. His is now officially a French resident and resides in gay Paris. His collection of non-fiction essays Cold Literature contains many of Gao’s thoughts on writing, politics, fame, and art. Gao walks the line between the artist as sage-like outsider and the artist as engaged activist, and I think he gets the balance correct.

This is a section from the essay “Parisian Notes.”

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