Taking apart and reassembling a tractor – this is a memory from youth that is cherished by Alai. By middle age, his life had taken a very different course. He was the acclaimed author of "Red Poppies" and the youngest recipient of the Mao Dun Literature Prize. Alai says he was destined to write, but never wanted to do so full-time. So, even while writing dozens of books, he has taken on a variety of other roles, among them sci-fi magazine editor, volunteer and amateur botanist. As a writer, he keenly evokes moments of excitement, confusion and pain without ever losing his sense of contemplation. As far as Alai is concerned, "humans are both the starting point and the destination."