Sanmao, born Chen Mao Ping, was a novelist, writer, educator and translator. Born in China in 1943, she grew up in Taiwan. She studied in Taiwan, Spain and Germany before moving to the Sahara desert with her Spanish husband, a scuba diver and underwater engineer. In 1976, she gained fame with the publication of her first book, Stories of the Sahara. Her husband died while diving in 1979, and Sanmao returned to Taiwan the following year. From 1976 until her death in 1991, she published more than twenty books. Mike Fu is a Brooklyn-based writer, translator and editor. He is a cofounder and editor of The Shanghai Literary Review, a transnational English language journal for arts and literature, and the assistant dean for global initiatives at Parsons School of Design.
A role model far ahead of her time . . . Now, mainland-born and Taiwanese-raised Sanmao is taking her rightful place in the pantheon of female travel writers with the English-language publication of Stories of the Sahara . . . Her confessional style, which can be painfully honest but is always self-aware and shot through with humour, fits perfectly in the age of #MeToo, despite the book being written five decades earlier . . . Her candidness about her marriage and life, along with her love of challenging convention, explains why Sanmao has been a heroine for Chinese women . . . Sanmao deserves all the praise, even if it has been a long time coming -- David Eimer * South China Morning Post * Stories of the Sahara has endured for generations of young Taiwanese and Chinese women yearning for independence from conservative social norms ... Her prose, which oscillates between memoir and fiction, has a laconic elegance that echoes the Beat poets. It can also be breezy, a remarkable quality at a time when her homeland, Taiwan, was under martial law * New York Times * A hypnotic meditation on love and loneliness in a foreign place. Writing with frankness and vulnerability, Sanmao's constant questioning of her insecurities and flaws is remarkably human, and nothing remains beyond the boundaries of her probing eye . . . Mike Fu's gorgeous translation brings to live Sanmao's evocative descriptions of the Sahrawi communities in which she lives, along with her wit and her gift for capturing life's absurdities. Stories of the Sahara is a record of one person's fierce refusal to follow a path laid down for her by the rest of the world, but it is also a celebration of the complexities of being an outsider, and ultimately, an ode to freedom -- Tash Aw * Paris Review Books of the Year * Ground-breaking . . . Sanmao wrote breezily but she captured the complexities of 'learning the art of living here' . . . A compelling tale of someone who was enraptured but uneasy, and Sanmao's pluck is admirable -- Geographical