Sanmao’s 76th Birthday – “Don’t ask from where I have come, My home is far, far away.”
—Sanmao “The Olive Tree”
Today’s Doodle celebrates the life and work of Chinese-born Taiwanese writer and translator Chen Mao Ping, known to her readers as Sanmao. Born in Chongqing, China on this day in 1943, Sanmao moved to Taiwan with her family as a young girl. She went on to become a prolific author and world traveler whose moving prose, independent spirit, and thirst for knowledge touched millions.
A voracious reader, Sanmao preferred classic novels like Don Quixote to doing her classwork as a child. After scoring zero on a math quiz, she was humiliated by a teacher who drew zeroes around her eyes. From then on she was home schooled by her family and by a tutor named Echo, who encouraged her love of art and literature.
Sanmao published her first work at 19 before resuming her education studying philosophy in Taiwan. She soon moved to Spain where she met her future husband, José María Quero. They lived together in the Sahara desert, during which time she wrote her best-known book, The Stories of the Sahara (1976). The moving memoir and travelogue has been translated into numerous different languages.
Sanmao went on to publish over 20 books, including a Chinese translation of the Spanish comic Mafalda. After returning to her native China for the first time since her childhood, Sanmao wrote the script for the acclaimed 1990 film Red Dust.
Her vivid prose, independent spirit, and willingness to travel widely in a search for knowledge inspired many of her readers to retrace her steps. So many Sanmao fans have visited her home in the Canary Islands that an official pilgrimage route was set up to guide them along their journey.
You can find more about Sanmao’s 76th Birthday on the official Google Doodle Page