Biographical Information:

Dates: 1959-Dates in Ridgefield: c.1970s
fiction, nonfiction, autobiographyeducator, cellist, actor
Most people turn to Mark Salzman's books to learn about China, but for anyone who lived in Ridgefield during the last third of the 20th Century -- especially for anyone who was a kid then--Lost in Place: Growing Up Absurd in Suburbia is must-reading. Salzman's surburbia was Ridgefield, and his youthful years here are detailed in the 1995 novel-style autobiography that offers many details of life in town in the 1970s. But Mr. Salzman is better known for his modern classic, Iron & Silk, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction; the book describes his two years in China where, after graduating from Yale summa cum laude with a degree in Chinese Language and Literature, he taught English to medical students and continued his study of martial arts. "When I was 13, living in Ridgefield, I saw a Kung Fu movie on TV and from then on, I had a burning interest in the Chinese," he told The Ridgefield Press in 1989. "As an adolescent, I was very shy, under five feet tall, and I wanted to impress the girls. I decided I could learn Chinese martial arts." The book was made into a movie that starred Salzman himself. His 1991 novel, The Laughing Sutra, is also based on this experience. An accomplished cellist –his proficiency on the cello helped to gain him entry at Yale at age 16–he once played with Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax at Lincoln Center on network television. Mr. Salzman has also written The Soloist--also nominated for a Pulitzer--a novel about a former child prodigy cellist. The son of a social worker and of former Ridgefield Orchestra harpsichordist Martha Salzman, in 2000, he was awarded a Guggenheim to work on his next book. He now lives and writes in California.
Titles (partial):Iron & Silk, 1987The Laughing Sutra, 1992The Soloist, 1995Lost in Place: Growing Up Absurd in Suburbia, 1996Lying Awake, 2000
--Sources: Notable Ridgefielders–Jack Sanders; www.davis.ca.us; www.cityofpasadena.net/library; www.barclayagency.com