by Jessica Chen
Taiwanese writer San Mao inspired several generations of Chinese readers with a “Saharan Story”, this is a story about her travels in the Sahara desert. This book has recently been translated into Italian “Un granello di sabbia caduto dal cielo: Diario del Sahara”.
In 1943, San Mao was born in Chongqing, southern China, formerly known as Chen Maoping. She grew up in Taiwan and later studied in Germany and Spain, where she met her husband Jose Marian Gro. As an underwater engineer, Jose found a job in the Western Sahara Desert on the northwest coast of Africa, when the area was still under Spanish control. After reading the article about it in National Geographic, Sanmao became the place she wanted to go. As Morocco and Mauritania began to compete for control of the area, the war was looming. Sanmao recorded the moments in the Sahara story. When the book was first published in 1976, it attracted a large number of readers.
So far, it can be translated into English, including Spanish, English, Dutch, Norwegian, Japanese, Korean, Cambodian, and Italian. Sanmao used his own labor income to travel around the world during his study abroad, and Rome was one of them. In addition, in March 2018, the first page of the Google search engine published photos of San Mao on San Mao’s birthday and Women’s Day.
Through San Mao’s own works and her schooling experience, it is not difficult to see that she reflects the result of the collision between the two cultural educations. One is traditional Chinese culture, and the other is western new education. She was born in a traditional but rational and open family. She was full of longing for the adventurous spirit of the West under the guidance of her parents. The story of Sahara is translated into multiple versions, which not only represents the strength of its literary works, but also represents its contribution to the integration of Chinese and Western cultures. The emergence of the Italian version also means that the Italian culture is inclusive.
“The Story of the Sahara” tells the story of an Asian woman living in the Sahara Desert, which will attract many readers. It is indeed a story that will be of interest regardless of race, age, and cultural background. The “Night of the Barren Mountain” in the book tells that when Sanmao lived in the Sahara Desert, he often went to the desert Gobi with Jose to explore the desert. As a result, in the afternoon, Jose found a place where the ocean degenerated into a desert, so he asked Sanmao to go exploring. As a result, it was already close to night, and the place was remote and not in the safe area. But this still could not stop San Mao’s adventurous heart. So they drove to it, and when they arrived, Jose accidentally fell into the swamp, and San Mao was helpless. At this time, it was worse, and a few big men came. San Mao wanted to ask for help, but they tried to misbehave. In order to rape San Mao, San Mao successfully escaped. He returned to
rescue Jose under the shock. Although this terrifying experience frightened San Mao, he still couldn’t stop his adventure.
In the desert where the temperature is often higher than 50°C, Sanmao proved that she is not only an immigrant who has moved abroad, she is assisting many local Saharans.
At the time, she was equipped with a switchblade and a pair of goggles that effectively resisted sandstorms. She acted as a scribe, nurse, teacher, and tailor. She not only helped local people treat diseases, malnutrition, and eye infections (her Professional skills are usually based on intuition rather than professional knowledge), and also mentor local female students. Once, she desperately tried to save the next dumb slave from resale, but failed. In such a harsh environment, she knew that it was useless to see everything, to hope, or to hold her feet temporarily. Her survivability also proved the meaning behind her pseudonym: the little boy in San Mao Liu Lang Ji is a character created by Chinese cartoonist Zhang Leping (1910–1992). He is a poor boy living in a slum in Shanghai, but Despite his hardship and severe malnutrition, he is still helpful and optimistic.
Through San Mao’s own works and her schooling experience, it is not difficult to see that she reflects the result of the collision between the two cultural educations. One is traditional Chinese culture, and the other is new Western education. She was born in a traditional but rationally open family, and is full of longing for the adventurous spirit of the West under the guidance of her parents. The story of Sahara was translated For multiple versions, it not only represents the strength of its literary works, but also represents its contribution to the integration of Chinese and Western cultures. The appearance of the Italian version also means that the Italian culture is inclusive.
I hope this book can evoke the interest of Italians in Chinese culture, and Sanmao Chinese fans will also be interested in Italian culture, so that cultural exchanges can be realized in daily life in a real sense.
About the author: Jessica Chen is the founder of Luxy Easy, a luxury vacation home rental service that has seen a rapid growth in customers from China.