The Nobel Prize in Literature 2000
Born: 4 January 1940, Ganzhou, China
Residence at the time of the award: France
Prize motivation: “for an œuvre of universal validity, bitter insights and linguistic ingenuity, which has opened new paths for the Chinese novel and drama”
Prize share: 1/1
Chinese writer, playwright and painter Gao Xingjian grew up in Jiangxi Province in eastern China. During the 1980s he published a variety of plays, poems and essays that were considered subversive by the Chinese regime. The increasing level of criticism led Gao Xingjian to settle in France, and he is now a French citizen. Gao Xingjian left the Communist Party in China in connection with the Tiananmen Square massacre.
A hallmark of Gao Xingjian’s writing is the blending of traditional Chinese literature and drama with a Western and modernist form. The novel Soul Mountain (1999) is based on impressions from journeys in southern and southwestern China, which Gao undertook when persecution from the Chinese regime increased. The book is a medley of genres and techniques, with a shifting narrative perspective and tales of people Gao met on the road: monks, folk musicians, a victim of the Cultural Revolution and others.