On his travels across China in the mid-eighties, which he later described in “Red Dust,” the book that made him known in the West, Ma Jian repeatedly chafed at official brutality and philistinism. Speaking to a small-town book club, he proclaimed, “I will not let a political party tell me how to live, when to die or what to believe in.” Reciting Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” to a fellow-writer, he mocked Ginsberg’s angry rejection of America. “He implies his country is not fit for humans to live in. Well, he should live in China for a month, then see what he thinks. Everyone here dreams of the day we can sing out of our windows in despair.”And not just Allen Ginsberg.