In 1959, at 19 years old and after the publication of his groundbreaking essay On Beauty, Gao was labeled a "rightist" by the Communist regime of Chairman Mao and sentenced to three years of hard labor in China's central desert. Ninety percent of his fellow inmates died.
At the beginning of the Cultural Revolution in 1966, as he was studying art and copying the frescoes of the Magao Caves, Gao was again sentenced to hard labor. Although he was officially deemed rehabilitated in 1978 and assigned to teach philosophy at Lanzhou University, he was dismissed in 1981 for his humanist views and was later prohibited from teaching or writing. After being imprisoned for a third time for nearly a year following the Tiananmen Square protests, he and his wife, Maya, escaped China through Hong Kong in 1992. They were granted political refugee status in the United States the following year.
In Search of My Homeland is Gao's memoir of a life of political persecution, and of a people subjected to the absurd violence of a totalitarian regime. Gao's enormous skill as a writer and observer places him in a unique position to provide a singluar, thoughtful perspective on China, and the Chinese, in the second half of the 20th Century.