Long before I had read any of her work, I’d been intrigued by the Taiwanese writer Sanmao and the special place she seemed to occupy in Chinese popular culture as a symbol of female independence. Popular depictions of Sanmao reveal a carefree personality with the gumption to pursue her own curiosities about the world, yet whose personal life was marked by tragedy.
Given her enduring popularity in Taiwan and mainland China, it is surprising that Stories of the Sahara, the personal essay collection based on her time in the Western Sahara during the 1970s and what is generally regarded as her breakthrough work, has only just become available in English from translator Mike Fu and publisher Bloomsbury.
I write in my review for SupChina:
Sanmao’s vivid descriptions of Sahara life, with its assortment of local personalities and unexpected twists, make an engaging read, but an undeniable part of the book’s enduring appeal is Sanmao herself. Stories of the Sahara offers a glimpse into not only an underreported time and place, but also the making of a cultural icon.
Stories of the Sahara is available on Amazon.