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Banned Chinese Writers

November 2012

A pile of sunflower seeds on a platform in front of a brown background
Ai Weiwei, "Sunflower Seeds," 2010; Ceramic, 500 kg; On exhibition at White Rabbit Gallery, Sydney; Courtesy of the artist and White Rabbit Collection

China’s role in the global economy is expanding, but its writers continue to struggle with censorship and restrictions. This month we’re presenting fiction, nonfiction, and essays by banned Chinese writers. In work that could not be published in their native country, the authors here testify to the conditions both during the Cultural Revolution and now. We open with Liao Yiwu’s impassioned acceptance speech for the Peace Prize for the German Book Trade, just awarded in mid October. Yang Xianhui exposes the hideous truth of the Great Famine, and Xie Peng and Duncan Jepson contribute a graphic portrait of gluttony. Chenxin Jiang interviews censored authors Yan Lianke and Chan Koon-chung. In fiction, Chen Xiwo depicts scheming poets, and Sheng Keyi describes a paradise turned dark. Activist Cui Weiping urges individual action. And in two memoirs of the Cultural Revolution, the late Ji Xianlin recalls his torture and imprisonment, and Zhang Yihe records a clandestine meeting between the top two Rightists.