Friday, February 04, 2011

Xiao Goes Back to China

I heard about printers in China refusing to print books that might not pass a government censor, even if the books were intended to be sold and distributed in the US. So we decided to try it out for Xiao's second book, The Visiting Suit: Stories From My Prison Life. This is what I heard back:

"I sent the files to my friend working in Shanghai Press and Publication Bureau yesterday. We got his opinion today. He said we cannot print this book. We will be economically punished if we print this book. I'm sorry we cannot help you this time. I'm afraid this book can only be printed in the states."

Xiao recently ventured back to China for his son's wedding and I asked him how it went. His response is below.

Generally speaking, the China trip was good (my son's wedding). But to me the most exciting thing was that I took the opportunity to see my two friends and former inmates who came to my home and had a long conversation with me there. I also received phone calls from other friends (also former inmates), who lived in other cities and couldn't come to see me. They were all glad that my books about the prison camps are being published in the U.S.

I was surprised that two versions of 1984 (translated by two translators) were published by big publishing houses in Beijing in the summer of 2010 alone. I found them in a book store in Shanghai, and the salesman told me that the books sold very well. I thought it was very interesting when I asked the salesman at Shanghai Book City why my books were not allowed to be published in China when 1984 (not one version, but two by two different publishers in Beijing) was already there. He shut me up by saying that 1984 is a parable but my stories are realistic.

I was not followed by the secret police there, and I heard many people say that they like the Communist regime.


I received two pictures from my brother today. My two former inmates, Wang and Zhou, both counterrevolutionaries like myself, came to see me at my mother's apartment before the New Year's Eve. Zhou, the man with a bald top is the character of He Zhen (The Visiting Suit) and Wang, an artist and calligrapher by profession, also appeared in the book. They had no trouble in meeting with me, but another former inmate, Fu, who is from a small town near Shanghai, was warned not to come to see me or talk to me on the phone. While the authorities didn't give me any trouble during my visit in China, they seemed well informed and to have effectively monitored those whom they thought might threaten the "security of the state."

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