Zenana Book Club

Mark Salzman

Mark Salzman

Mark Salzman, at different times in his life, wanted to be an astronaut (he sat in small cardboard crates for hours at a time), a Zen monk (he not only meditated in the basement for hours at a time, but walked to junior high barefoot), and a martial arts expert (he studied for several years with a sadistic kung fu master).

He hated high school, didn't date, and had a serious flirtation with drugs when he took a year off before going to Yale where he graduated with honors. He then went to China, where he became an English teacher and a martial arts student. His first book, IRON AND SILK, described his experiences and became the foundation for his screenplay and starring role in a film of the same name.

His mother is a musician and his father was a social worker. After high school, he took a year off to work to save money for college. Yet he spent every dollar he earned on sports cars that didn't run and ended up parked on the edge of the family's driveway.

He discovered Chinese studies while in high school and the pursuit of that extracurricular interest seemed to have attracted the attention of Yale's admissions department. And his parents forgave his youthful excesses and mistakes. He wrote a funny, touching memoir, LOST IN PLACE, about his experiences while growing up. He never became an astronaut and years of abuse and bad training resulted in chronic back problems, thereby ending his would-be career as a martial arts expert. He still is in constant pain. 

Salzman started concertizing again, playing in small halls, about five years ago. This led to a new relationship with his mother.

He still appreciates his life as a writer, even though he doesn't teach writing, doesn't belong to a writing group, and relies mainly on his wife to be his critical first reader.

An accomplished cellist and recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, Salzman has written three novels, THE LAUGHING SUTRA, THE SOLOIST, and LYING AWAKE. He lives in California.

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