Salzman was born December 3, 1959 in Greenwich, Connecticut.
The son of an artist and a musician, he grew up in an
artistically gifted household. Early on he developed
an interest in martial arts, and as a teenager wanted
to drop out of school to become a Buddhist monk. His
parents discouraged this but did allow him to study
martial arts and Chinese culture. Salzman was admitted
to Yale University to study music as he was an accomplished
cellist. However, he changed his major to Chinese Language
and Literature. After graduation in 1982, he traveled
to Changsha, China, to teach English at Hunan Medical
College for two years. He wrote of his experiences in
Iron and Silk and went on to act in a film version of
the book. At one point, he also spent some time as a
dishwasher in a Chinese restaurant.
He won several awards for Iron and
Silk in 1987, including the Literary Lions Award
of the New York Public Library, the Christopher Award
and a nomination for the nonfiction Pulitzer Prize.
His writings have been described as "spare"
and "symmetrical," with themes "infinitely
The following is a list of his works:
Iron and Silk (1986) 951.058
This memoir was born out of entertaining friends with
stories of his experiences in China, where Salzman spent
two years teaching English and studying martial arts
and calligraphy. It is a series of short vignettes which
give great insight into the Chinese culture.
The Laughing Sutra (1991) FIC
A young man escapes from China during the Cultural Revolution
on a quest to find an ancient Chinese scroll in America.
He then must decide whether to stay loyal to his quest
and return, or stay in America to create a better life
Lost in Place: Growing Up Absurd
in Suburbia (1995) 813.54 SAL
A second memoir, this one recounts his growing up in
Connecticut during the 1960s and 1970s.
Lying Awake (2000) * FIC SAL
A Carmelite nun finds herself experiencing intense spiritual
visions, which she treasures as a special grace from
God. She then develops a health problem and must choose
between the visions and a life-saving operation, which
would likely interfere with the visions.
The Soloist (1994) FIC SAL or
YA FIC SAL
A former musical prodigy feels his life is a major
disappointment. He finds himself a jurist in a murder
case, and at the same time he begins teaching a young
genius that plays the cello. His involvement with the
murder trial and young man gradually helps him to find
peace with life.
*Also available as a cassette recording
Prepared by the St. Charles
Public Library, January 2003