London-based author Ma Jian is not tarred by the same brush that paints mainland Chinese authors, such as the Nobel laureate Mo Yan, as compromised self-censors, afraid to call out the regime on its abuses of power. Rather, he is their strongest accuser. ‘Official Chinese writers’ are ‘locked in a beautiful cage’, he has said, and have abandoned what he sees as a responsibility of literature in an unfree country to tackle sensitive political and social topics.
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