Gao Xingjian

China, PR

Writer, Nobel Prize in Literature 2000

Guest of the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Programme 1985

Gao Xingjian DAAD


Gao Xingjian was born in East China in 1940 and came to West Berlin in 1985 as a guest of the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Programme. He immediately felt at home: "Berlin was like a showcase. And so many people spoke French," recalls the writer, who took his academic examinations in Beijing in French. After publication bans and political attacks, Gao received political asylum in France. He moved to Paris two years later, where he completed his most important novel Soul Mountain and began writing plays and exhibiting ink drawings. Gao Xingjian became a French citizen in 1998. He was awarded the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1992 and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2000.

During my stay in Berlin, I was able to be alone for the very first time. I really had a great time. Berlin had this unbelievable international flair.
Gao Xingjian

Afterwards his works were also published in German. His novel One Man's Bible, which was published in German translation in 2004, describes life in exile. For him it meant "writing without self-censorship in peace and quiet". Nevertheless, he says: "I carry the whole Chinese culture within me." His book Buying a Fishing Rod for My Grandfather was published in German translation (Die Angel meines Großvaters) in 2008.