Wang Xiaobo (1952–1997) was a novelist and essayist whose literary influences included Italo Calvino, George Orwell, Marguerite Duras and Milan Kundera. His work has become widely popular in China since his early death.

Silent majority

In The Tin Drum, Günter Grass wrote of a boy who didn't want to grow up. Young Oskar finds the world around him too absurd, and quietly resolves to always remain a child. Whereupon some otherworldly power fulfils his wish and he becomes a midget. This story is a little on the mystical side, but very illuminating. Though it's impossible to always remain a child, it is possible to always remain silent. Many people around me have personalities much like mine – on public occasions we won't say a word, but we can hardly stop talking in private. Put another way, we will say anything to people we can trust, and nothing to those we can't.

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