Friday, 21 December 2012

Liao, Yiwu "Testimonials or: For a Song and a Hundred Songs"

Liao, Yiwu "Testimonials or: For a Song and a Hundred Songs: A Poet's Journey Through a Chinese Prison" (Chinese: Zheng-Ci) - 2000

I read the expanded German translation of a Chinese book by Yiwu Liao "Für ein Lied und hundert Lieder: Ein Zeugenbericht aus chinesischen Gefängnissen". He just received the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade (Friedenspreis). The book "describes the horrific treatment of Liao Yiwu and other political prisoners in a Chongqing prison who were arrested after the June 4, 1989 crackdown".

It's terrifying to read what people in Chinese prisons have to go through. This is a good book to read but with horrible pictures of what they do to each other. It's hardly believable that human beings can be like that.
What a tragic report of so many lives lost and wasted. At times, I thought, "Do I really want to know all this?" But then I carried on because if people can endure those tortures, we should at least make an effort to know about it. How much can a person endure?

There is also a lot of poetry in this book since Yiwu Liao is a poet, and a lot of Chinese history and literature, information about Chinese life and thinking. My favourite proverb mentioned: "Distant water won't quench your immediate thirst".

Yiwu Liao received the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade (Friedenspreis) in 2012.

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