MA JIAN was born in Qingdao, China, in 1953. He is the author of Stick Out Your Tongue, his debut novel which in 1987 led to the permanent banning of his books in China; Red Dust, winner of the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award; four collections of short stories and essays; and six further novels, including Beijing Coma, winner of the Index on Censorship Book Award and the Athens Prize for Literature. His last book, The Dark Road, nominated for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, saw him barred from returning to China. His work has been translated into more than twenty languages. He now lives in exile in London.