Chinese Dissident Writers

The following Chinese writers have been in residence at Brown in the years following the Tian'anmen Square massacre: Ma Bo, Xue Di, and Bei Ling.  Poet Xue Di, is a native of Beijing who left China after taking part in the 1989 demonstrations in Tian'anmen Square; he has been a fellow in Brown's Freedom to Write program since 1990.  Since coming to Providence, Xue Di has published three books in English translation, Flames (Paradigm Press, 1995), a cycle of poems dedicated to Vincent Van Gogh, Heart into Soil (Burning Deck/Lost Roads Press, 1998), and Circumstances (Duration Press, 2000).  Three volumes of Xue Di's collected works, prepared for publication in mainland China in 1999, were stopped in press due to governmental censorship.  In the same year, Xue Di received a two-year grant from the Joukowsky Foundation that has allowed him to remain at Brown and continue his writing.

Poet and essayist, Bei Ling, came to the United States in 1988; he became a fellow at Brown after being blacklisted by the Chinese government in absentia for his political activities. An experimental poet in China since the 1970s, Bei Ling is the author of two books in Chinese, Wandering in March and The Deceived.   Bei Ling is the founder and editor of Tendency, a literary journal dedicated to publishing literary works in Chinese.  He is also the founder and Executive Director of the Independent Chinese PEN Center, an organization of Chinese writers and intellectuals based in Boston.  Bei Ling is on the Executive Board of the International Center for Writing and Translation at the University of California, Irvine, and a research associate at Harvard University's Fairbank Center for East Asian Research.  His poetry, essays and book reviews have appeared in The Los Angeles Times, The New Republic, The New York Times, and The Harvard Review.  Bei Ling's poetry has been translated from Chinese into English, Japanese, German, French and Spanish. 

After studying in Beijing, novelist, Ma Bo, joined the Cultural Revolution and worked as a farmhand in Inner Mongolia; while there, he was ostracized and branded as a counter-revolutionary for criticizing his superiors.  Ma Bo's novel, Blood Red Sunset, recounts his farming experience; when it was published in China in 1988, it became an immediate best-seller.  The book later disappeared from bookstore shelves, although the Chinese government claims it has not been banned.  Turned activist by his own experiences, Ma Bo took part in the Tian'anmen Square uprising and became a target of government investigation following the June 4 massacre.  Fearing for his safety, Ma Bo fled to Hong Kong, and subsequently to France and the U.S.  Viking Press published his novel in an English translation in 1995.  A fellow at Brown for several years, Ma Bo returned to China in the late 1990s.