Xiaolu Guo shows support for silenced Chinese writers in New York

8th June 2015

Last Wednesday, Xiaolu Guo joined supporters gathered at a literary protest and reading for silenced Chinese writers on the steps of the New York Public Library.

Jonathan Franzen, Andrew Solomon, Paul Auster, Francine Prose, Ha Jin and others stood outside the main New York Public Library to demand that China free Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo and professor Ilham Tohti from prison, stop restricting other writers and have the confidence to allow free speech.

The authors took a group photo with the crowd holding placards spelling “free expression” in English and Chinese. Organizers said the photo will make its way into China via virtual private network services that let Internet users jump the Great Firewall.

Protest organizer PEN American Center said this week’s BookExpo America features a China delegation of hundreds of people “hand-picked by the Chinese government.”

At the expo, PEN volunteers handed out fliers entitled “Governments Make Bad Editors.” China’s publishing delegation, meanwhile, kept the mood firmly positive with such presentations as “Book Launch for The China Dream.”

On the convention floor, where China had purchased more than 20,000 square feet, featured books ranged from the sayings of Mao Zedong to “A Study of the Important Speeches Made By Secretary-General Xi Jinping.”
Chinese Embassy spokesman Zhu Haiquan has said the Chinese government protects its citizens’ right of freedom to publish but those exercising that freedom must abide by Chinese law.

The BookExpo, the publishing industry’s annual national trade show, said China represents a significant market that’s critical to the industry.

It’s important for them to have a seat at the table and engage in a cultural and commercial exchange that could have a positive impact on the future of publishing both at home and across the globe,” BookExpo event director Steve Rosato said this week.

One American publisher who issues Chinese books for the American market acknowledged having conflicted feelings.
Paul Harrington, vice president and associate publisher of CN Times Books, acknowledged that books his company was translating “went through whatever propaganda process is in place there” and that “if it made me too uncomfortable, I suppose I could quit.”

Related Books

I Am China

I Am China

Random House, 2014