Chinese-born French novelist, dramatist, and artist. Gao Xingjian's writings reflect his views as a political activist and supporter of human rights. His work combines Zen philosophy with a modern outlook and reflects the personal struggles of his people in the context of Chinese history. His works are banned in China, including the acclaimed novel Soul Mountain (1989), describing a mystic search through the southern and southwestern provinces of China, searching for personal freedom, roots, and inner peace. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2000 for his ‘oeuvre of universal validity, bitter insights, and linguistic ingenuity, which has opened new paths for the Chinese novel and drama’. He was the first Chinese person to receive a Nobel Prize for Literature.
Gao Xingjian was declared persona non grata in China and all works banned after he published his play Fugitives, based on the massacre of student demonstrators in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989. He has written critical essays, short stories, translations, and books on the techniques of drama and fiction. He is also a painter who produces cover illustrations for his books and has had more than 30 international exhibitions.
Born in Ganzhou in Jiangxi province, Gao Xingjian received a degree in French from Beijing Foreign Studies University. He began writing but burned a suitcase of his works after being sent to a ‘re-education’ camp for five years of hard labour in the 1960s during the Cultural Revolution. He was not allowed to publish until 1979. His experimental plays offended many and after the government banned The Other Shore in 1986, Gao Xingjian moved to Paris, France, the following year.
Following the tragedy of Tianamen Square, he renounced his Communist Party membership and became a French citizen.