Liao Yiwu is one of the most prominent Chinese underground writers. He is well known for his frank criticism of the Chinese regime. After being prevented several times from leaving China, he has finally come to Germany.
Chinese underground writer Liao Yiwu was able to travel out of China for the first time ever
Liao Yiwu was detained many times for his writings and has been under constant surveillance in China. For many years, he was denied travel documents. Only during the chaos of the Sichuan earthquake in 2008, his application for a passport was granted by the authorities in his home city, Chengdu.
Liao Yiwu's books are available only on the black market
"Now, for the first time I’m somewhere where freedom exists. It is like a mouse jumping out of its hole. In the past I could only perform underground. Now, I can perform in public. I’ve never had such a great feeling before," says Liao Yiwu.
Stories about China’s poorest
Liao attended this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair after being prevented from coming here last year when China was the guest of honor.
In China, his books are banned because Liao Yiwu tells stories about the lowest stratum of China’s society. His books are only available on the black market. But here in Germany, Liao Yiwu is quite well-known.
Liao Yiwu says that there are many Chinese writers who are even more talented than himself. They also try to get "out of their mouse holes", he adds. "Through me many other Chinese underground writers will get a chance to have their works translated and published in Western languages," he hopes.
Nobel boost for China’s intellectuals
The Nobel Peace Prize for Liu Xiaobo could give Chinese intellectuals a new boost
Although the interest in Chinese literature ebbed in Germany after last year’s Frankfurt Book Fair, the Nobel Prize for detained dissident Liu Xiaobo might change things again. Liao Yiwu is a close friend of Liu Xiaobo's. His reaction to the Nobel Peace Prize announcement: "This shows that a persistent, stubborn - and some might even say - silly individual can experience a happy ending."
The Nobel Prize is an important encouragement for Liao Yiwu and other intellectuals who are as stubborn in defying China’s regime.
Liao Yiwu has known Liu Xiaobo for more than 20 years. He is confident. "The peace prize will give us intellectuals a boost. There are people who are saying that the Nobel Peace Prize shouldn’t go to someone who is in prison. But this is only envy and it is their problem!"
More stories to tell
Liao Yiwu will return to Sichuan at the end of the month. There he will continue to do what he can do best - writing. Even if a political system changes, a writer will keep writing, he explains.
"There are so many untold stories from the very bottom of Chinese society that I still have to write. There are new stories wherever you look - especially in Sichuan."
Liao Yiwu knows that back in China he won’t enjoy much freedom. But he has never thought about staying on in Germany or Europe. He believes that a writer who leaves the place where his mother tongue is spoken will not be able to continue writing.
Author: Chi Viet Giang
Editor: Thomas Baerthlein