December 10, 2010

Graywolf Press to publish Liu Xiaobo


Liu Xiaobo, Nobel Peace Prize Winner

Today Liu Xiaobo, the Chinese poet and dissident, formally receives the Nobel Peace Prize. While he will be enjoying the honor from his jail cell, hopefully word has gotten to him about his latest stroke of luck.

In a move that all but guarantees that this will go down as the “year of the literary longshot,” Graywolf Press announced yesterday that they will publish the first English translation of Xiaobo’s work. The PBS Newshour’s “Arts Beat” blog reported that the collection titled “June Fourth Elegies” will come out in 2012.

The bilingual edition, whose title refers to the brutal crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators at Tiananmen Square in 1989, has not been published in China. Indeed, as his translator Jeffrey Yang told PBS, most of his work has been destroyed. “The circumstances of trying to read him are difficult, pretty much impossible in China, because he hasn’t been able to publish there” since he was imprisoned for co-writing “Charter 08,” a document that advocated greater freedom of expression and political reforms.

Unfortunately, most Chinese will hardly know that the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded today. In anticipation of the ceremony, the Chinese government has imposed a media blackout for all major external news and media sources.