Mark Salzman

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Mark Salzman
Born (1959-12-03) December 3, 1959 (age 62)
Greenwich, Connecticut, United States
  • Writer
  • actor
  • cellist
Alma materYale University
Notable worksIron & Silk
SpouseJessica Yu
ChildrenAva Salzman and Esme Salzman

Mark Joseph Salzman (born December 3, 1959 in Greenwich, Connecticut) is an American writer. Salzman is best known for his 1986 memoir Iron & Silk, which describes his experiences living in China as an English teacher in the early 1980s.[2]

Salzman grew up in Ridgefield, Connecticut, the oldest child of a piano teacher mother and a social worker father. He studied Chinese Language and Literature at Yale University. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude in 1982 and spent the next two years in Changsha, Hunan, teaching English at Hunan Medical College [zh] and studying martial arts with Pan Qingfu, a Chinese martial arts teacher and kung fu movie actor. His experiences in China are recounted in his first book, Iron & Silk: A young American encounters swordsmen, bureaucrats and other citizens of contemporary China, published in 1986. Salzman received several literary awards for Iron & Silk. The book was made into a 1990 film of the same title. Salzman wrote the screenplay and starred as himself in the film. Though the real venue of the story was in Changsha, the film was shot in Hangzhou, Zhejiang.

Salzman's other publications include several works of fiction, a memoir dealing with growing up in suburbia, more specifically Ridgefield, Connecticut, and a report on his work as a creative writing instructor for juvenile delinquents.

Salzman plays the cello.[3] In high school, he played the cello for the Norwalk Youth Symphony. In 1996, he performed as guest cellist with YoYo Ma, pianist Emmanuel Ax, and others at Alice Tully Hall for the 20th anniversary performance of Live From Lincoln Center.

Mark Salzman, along with three other men, was featured in the documentary Protagonist, directed by his wife, Jessica Yu. In 2011 Salzman presented a multimedia monologue, An Atheist in Freefall at the New York Public Library as part of the exhibition Three Faiths: Judaism, Christianity, Islam. [4]

Salzman and his wife Jessica Yu, an Academy Award-winning filmmaker, have two daughters. After receiving his 2000 Guggenheim Fellowship, he spent time as a stay-at-home parent. The family makes their home in Los Angeles.

Works by Salzman[edit]

  • Iron & Silk (1986), ISBN 0-394-55156-7
  • The Laughing Sutra (1991)
  • The Soloist (1994)
  • Lost in Place: Growing Up Absurd in Suburbia (1995)
  • Lying Awake (2000)[5]
  • True Notebooks (2003), a book about his experience as a writing teacher in Central Juvenile Hall, as well as the inmates and their writing
  • The Man in the Empty Boat (2012), about his struggles with anxiety and writer's block.


External links[edit]