Gao is the first Chinese author to receive Nobel price in literature (in 2000). Being a writer in exile, his works were immediately forbidden and criticised in Red Star country even more than before. As he is writing what should be written about Mao. Full stop.
He is still rather unknown in the west. A pity. As he has much to say universally, no only about the Chinese world.
I read before his book "The Soul Mountain" and was delighted. This one delighted me also, it is a masterpiece, contemporary masterpiece.
Why 'contemporary'? As it is different than other similar books. If someone is writing a book about China in 20th century, how to escape pathetics and shallow wallowing in the sorrow for the dead? As there is so many of these dead people, just for a pun on ethics of human race by Mao.
Which is the aspect of Gao's writing I consider so different?
Independence of thinking. He is not standing on he shoulders of giants, at all. No megalomany of Artist, just an ordinary, so ordinary, human being. This is what I would consider his largest achievement, his humanity. Despite all evil, all suffering.
Gao is sending us a message. Being a human being today is not a simple thing. It demands more than watching TV and doing our job, or performing a good family reality show.