Radio Waves daily blog by Two Dollar Radio indie book publisher


China and the Imprisoned Hong Kong Booksellers



There seems to be a persistent trickle of news regarding blatant and shocking human rights violations that persist to this day in China. I've seen the documentary about Ai Weiwei, Never Sorry, and was directly made aware of the government's continuing censorship when we published Xiaoda Xiao's books, the novel The Cave Man and his memoir, The Visiting Suit: Stories From My Prison Life.

Xiao was inspired to write about his experience in one of Mao's labor prisons, where he spent seven years in a stone quarry as punishment for accidentally tearing a poster of Mao, after being freed and encountering a popular version of prison literature that romanticized the experience. It was his intention to portray an accurate representation of what life was like in a Chinese labor prison.

The Visiting Suit by Xiaoda Xiao (Two Dollar Radio)At the time we were about to publish The Visiting Suit, I had heard that the government still censored publishers and writers, which surprised me. As a publisher, we receive queries from printers constantly, from those based domestically and abroad. I decided to see whether a Chinese printer would print The Visiting Suit for us. Not surprisingly, they refused, and I can't blame them, because doing so would mean that they would be punished. Printers in China employ censors to review work that they're about to print to ensure it won't antagonize the government party.

Last year, Chinese authorities quietly apprehended five booksellers and publishers, snatching them from Hong Kong, China, and Thailand, and then detaining and torturing them. They were arrested for their connection to a series of books banned in China, that pertain to "gossipy accounts of the private lives of senior Communist Party figures."

Lam Wing-kee, who was tortured by his Chinese captors fishing for information on Chinese citizens who had purchased copies of the gossip books from Lam's Hong Kong bookshop, managed to escape custody. He had been returned to Hong Kong from China in order to retrieve a list of customers, the Chinese authorities expecting him to return, which he did not.

Lam said in a statement:

"I also want to tell the whole world. This isn’t about me, this isn’t about a bookstore. This is about everyone. This is the bottom line of the Hong Kong people. This is Hong Kongers’ bottom line—Hong Kongers will not bow down before brute force.”

There are still Hong Kong booksellers imprisoned in China, and the daughter of one, Gui Minhai, testified to Congress in May about her father's detention. The Senate's Congressional-Executive Commission on China released a statement calling the detentions "illegal," adding they will "have serious economic and security implications."

After we published Xiao's books, he returned to China for the first time in many years. He had a small reunion with friends he had from the labor prison. Once he returned to the U.S., I asked him how it went. It was a success, he thought, because neither he or his friends had been followed or detained.

SaveSave
Previous post Next Post

Comments

Let us know what you think here:

Hi there!

Two Dollar Radio is a family-run outfit founded in 2005 with the mission to reaffirm the cultural and artistic spirit of the publishing industry. We aim to do this by presenting bold works of literary merit, each book, individually and collectively, providing a sonic progression that we believe to be too loud to ignore. Check out the ABOUT US section to read more...

Radio Waves daily blog by Two Dollar Radio indie book publisher

Latest posts

  • On the Dial | Independent Bookstore Day

    Independent presses (like us) and independent bookstores (opposite Barnes & Noble$$) go together like peas and carrots. Independent Bookstore Day "is a one-day national party that takes place at indie bookstores across the country on the last Saturday in April. Every store... Read more →

  • The Death-Rattle of Culture | 4/21/17

    4.20, man. Check out this definitive list of the best things to watch while stoned. 'First protest in space' targets Trump 'F-Bomb' and 'Photobomb' and the English Dictionary Watch Stephen Cobert say "goodbye" to Bill O'Reilly C O A C... Read more →

  • Design of the Week | Lemon Cotton Candy Sunset

    Richard Edward's (fka Margot & the Nuclear So and So's) new album Lemon Cotton Candy Sunset is officially here. I pre-ordered the album via Joyful Noise Recordings and received my copy before its release on April 1. I've been pretty... Read more →