Over 10 million copies sold in Taiwan and China
First published in 1976, Stories of the Sahara was the literary breakthrough that launched the career of one of the most captivating and enigmatic voices in the Chinese language of the twentieth century. The mystique surrounding Sanmao persists in no small part thanks to this book, her first and most well-regarded work. Sanmao was the pen name of Chen Ping, a woman from southwest China who spent her childhood amid the turbulence of World War II and the Chinese Civil War, before her family moved to Taiwan and then she in turn moved to Europe, where she met her Spanish husband José Maria Quero.
Stories of the Sahara is autobiography, yet at the same time, ‘Sanmao’ becomes not only penname but also a persona extraordinaire, blurring the boundaries between fiction and reality, truth and fantasy. Originally serialised in Taiwan’s United Daily News as well as other outlets, these are vivid stories painted against the canvas of the Spanish colonial Sahara of the 1970s and the impending political turmoil driving the narrative to its melancholy end. It is her awareness of the unique burdens as well as advantages inherent in her Otherness and her descriptions of the desert landscape that have stuck with readers ever since, turning it into a modern classic of Chinese language literature.