Ma Jian was born in Qingdao, China in 1953. He worked as a watch-mender and a painter of propaganda boards and was assigned a job as a photojournalist for a state-run magazine. At the age of thirty, Ma Jian left work and travelled for three years across China, a journey he later described in his book Red Dust, winner of the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award 2002. He left Beijing for Hong Kong in 1987 but continued to travel to China, notably to support the pro-democracy activists in Tiananmen Square in 1989. After the hand-over of Hong Kong he moved to Germany and then London, where he now lives. Books by Ma Jian translated in English include his novel, The Noodle Maker, his short story collection about Tibet, his critically-acclaimed masterpiece, Beijing Coma; and Stick Out Your Tongue, the book which prompted the Chinese government to ban Ma Jian's work and which set him on the road to exile.
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