Sanmao belongs to the 20th century most iconic women. She was a writer, traveler, and university teacher born in China in 1943 and then raised in Taiwan. As an adult she travelled extensively across Spain, Germany, Central America and spent a few years living in the Western Sahara where she closely observed the native Sahrawi culture.
Stories of the Sahara provide an unique insight into Sanmao’s and her husband, Jose’s life mainly in Western Sahara during the 1970s. Since its publication this book has captivated and inspired millions of Chinese readers for decades. It offers an interesting perspective of North Africa from a non-Western female traveller’s view. We learn about Sanmao’s life in the desert, her beautiful relationship with her Spanish husband. Through her words we witness a free spirit of Sanmao, her lust for adventure and refreshing wondrous curiosity of the world around her.
Stories of the Sahara are partly memoir, partly travelogue, filled with warmth, wit, compassion and unique observations, written during the times when many women would have only dreamt of this kind of adventure. Sanmao’s life was interesting and tragic at the same time. I highly encourage you to read about her life prior to reading this book (a short bio will do).
Stories of Sahara are such an engaging, immensely enjoyable and timeless read. Sanmao gave us an extraordinary glimpse into the Sahrawi people and their way of life. Above all this, Stories of Sahara constitute a great portrait of the quest of one individual to locate their place in the multifaceted world and a mesmerising depiction of loneliness of being an outsider. Sanmao has become a symbol of freedom and independence for many people. I can’t express how much I loved Stories of the Sahara. Highly recommended! It’s a great book for a gift to those who are interested in travel and adventure.