XIAODA XIAO was arrested in 1971 for tearing a poster of Mao and was sentenced to a five-year prison term as a counterrevolutionary. He has published stories based on his prison experience in various magazines, including The Atlantic, DoubleTake, Confrontation, Antaeus, and Guernica. He is the author of the novel, The Cave Man, and the forthcoming memoir-in-stories, The Visiting Suit: Stories From My Prison Life (November 2010). He will be appearing at this year's Brooklyn Book Festival on September 12.
When I was 20 years old, and a college student, I defaced a portrait of Chairman Mao. For this act, and without a trial, I was declared a political prisoner and sent to a forced labor prison in Taihu Lake, where I served in a labor reform brigadein this instance, a stone quarryfor seven years.