ABOUT the author
Xiaoda Xiao is the author of the memoir-in-stories The Visiting Suit and the novel The Cave Man. He has published stories based on his prison experience during the last years of Mao’s regime in China in various magazines, including The Atlantic Monthly. He came to Amherst, MA—where he still lives with his wife—in the spring of 1989, shortly before the break-out of the democratic movement in Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Xiaoda Xiao is an accomplished fine artist as well as a concern violinist and, an inventor.
Pictured here is an oil painting, Release, by Xiaoda Xiao:
"A large portrait of Chairman Mao at the entrance of the street drew my attention. It was on a cement board about five feet high. The background was peeling away and I saw a rip as big as half of my palm on Mao’s chin. Beneath the portrait a quotation was printed in red: 'Never forget–struggle!' But the other part of the slogan was hidden by a woman’s pink underwear and blue skirt, which hung on a long piece of bamboo pole sticking out of a nearby window. All I could see was 'Revolution is not a dinner party!'"
View more of Xiaoda Xiao's powerful oil paintings here.
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The Cave Man
"Like Kafka's fiction, Xiaoda's novel illustrates an individual's powerlessness in the face of a pitiless bureaucracy. But he blends that familiar predicament with a more specifically Chinese tragedy, in which the same individual fails to re-integrate into a culture that is nothing if not inexorably collective. Xiaoda's storytelling has plenty of antic vigor for all its grimness, fueled by an activist's anger."
The Visiting Suit
"[Xiao] recount[s] his struggle in sometimes unexpectedly lovely detail. Against great odds, in the grimmest of settings, he manages to find good in the darkness."
—New York Times Book Review
W Magazine: Five Minutes with Xiaoda Xiao | 11/22/2010
W Magazine speaks with Xiaoda Xiao about why he wrote his memoir, and thoughts about the human rights situation in China today.
Publishers Weekly Talks with Xiaoda Xiao | 10/26/2009
PW speaks with Xiaoda Xiao about where he ends and his characters begin, his experience as an M.F.A. student in Amherst, and the experience of writing about Chinese labor camps.
The Nervous Breakdown, A Self-Interview with Xiaoda Xiao | 12/11/2010
Author Xiaoda Xiao answers questions from himself, on topics such as why he writes to the honoring of Liu Xiaobo with the Nobel Prize.
An Interview with Xiaoda Xiao | 9/14/2010
We had the pleasure of getting up close and personal with Xiaoda Xiao in his home, where the concern violinist and master painter—oh, and acclaimed author!—talked candidly about his experiences in Mao's China, which have informed his work. Enjoy:
A violin solo by author Xiaoda Xiao | 5/1/2010: