In honor of his “eloquent and fearless battle against political repression,” the German Publishers and Booksellers Association has awarded its prestigious 2012 Peace Prize to Chinese dissident writer Liao Yiwu, who walked out on his native country and landed in Germany a year and a half ago to pursue what he calls “freedom to write and publish.”
“In his prose and poetry, Liao Yiwu erects an evocative literary monument to those people living on the margins of Chinese society,” says the statement issued by the association’s board of trustees. “The author, who has experienced first-hand the effects of prison, torture and repression, is an unwavering chronicler and observer who bears witness on behalf of the outcasts of modern China.”
A native of Sichuan, China, Liao Yiwu is a poet, musician, novelist and documentarian. He has authored Corpse Walker, God is Red, For a Song and A Hundred Songs and Bullets and Opium, all of which have been translated into multiple languages including English, German, French, Spanish, Swedish and Polish.
In the Corpse Walker, for which the Peace Prize was given, Liao has recorded his interviews with 27 Chinese living at the bottom rungs of society, from a grave robber and a leper, to a professional mourner paid to wail at funerals, and a human trafficker. Liao’s research took 11 years, and his final product is a stunning series of portraits of a generation and class of individuals ignored in history books and unacknowledged in the accounts of the Communist China.
And congrats by proxy to Wen Huang, who both wrote this piece for Publishing Perspectives, and translated The Corpse Walker into English.
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