P R E S S   R E L E A S E

Chinese Version

25 October 2001

Mr Gao Xingjian

        Mr Gao Xingjian was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature 2000 and is, to date, the first and only Chinese writer to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature. The Swedish Academy lauded his novel Lingshan (Soul Mountain) together with other writings as "an oeuvre of universal validity, bitter insights and linguistic ingenuity, which has opened new paths for the Chinese novel and drama".

        Born in Ganzhou of Jianxi Province, China, in 1940, Mr Gao graduated from the French department of the Beijing Foreign Languages Institute in 1962 and worked as a translator after graduation. He made his debut in the literary scene with his novel, Hanye zhong de xingchen (Stars on a Cold Night) and literary theory writing Xiandai xiaoshuo jiqiao chutan (A Preliminary Exploration into the Techniques of Modern Fiction). In 1981, Mr Gao joined Beijing People's Art Theatre as a resident playwright. The next year, his theatrical debut Juedui xinhao (Absolute Signal) was staged by ten art troupes across the country. A prolific writer, 18 of his plays have been staged worldwide, including mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Australia, the United States of America, countries in Europe and Africa. They are all regarded highly. His works, the great majority of which written in Chinese, have been translated into French, Swedish, English, Italian, German, Latin, Hungarian, Japanese, Korean, and other languages, bringing Chinese literature into the world literary arena.

        A prominent playwright, director, novelist, painter, and literary theorist, Mr Gao has made enormous contributions to contemporary Chinese literature and art, especially in the last two decades of the past century. His plays have been staged in Hong Kong's theatres as early as the mid-80s. In 1995, he came to Hong Kong to direct the Hong Kong premier of Bi'an (The Other Shore). More recently, his important works including Meiyou zhuyi (Without Isms), Shanhaijing zhuan (The Classic of Mountains and Seas), and Zhoumo sichongzou (Weekend Quartet) were published in Hong Kong. He has also held several exhibitions of his ink-brush paintings in the territory.

        Over the years, Mr Gao has given valuable support to art and literature research at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. In October 1993, he visited Hong Kong for the first time at the invitation of the Institute of Chinese Studies of the University to deliver the first Sin Wai Kin Lecture on Contemporary Chinese Culture. His writings have been carried by the Twenty-First Century bimonthly published by the Institute. In December 1993, he visited Hong Kong again and attended the International Symposium on Contemporary Play-writing in the Chinese Language, hosted by Sir Run Run Shaw Hall of the University. An anthology of five of his plays was translated into English, entitled The Other Shore, by Professor Gilbert Fong of the Department of Translation and published by The Chinese University Press. Mr Gao visited the University early this year and presented a public lecture on 30th January -- his first in Hong Kong since receiving the Nobel Prize, sharing his insights into the 'Language of Literature' with his audience.