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The Corpse Walker

Real Life Stories: China From the Bottom Up

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Paperback published by Anchor (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)

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About This Book
The Corpse Walker introduces us to regular men and women at the bottom of Chinese society, most of whom have been battered by life but have managed to retain their dignity: a professional mourner, a human trafficker, a public toilet manager, a leper, a grave robber, and a Falung Gong practitioner, among others. By asking challenging questions with respect and empathy, Liao Yiwu managed to get his subjects to talk openly and sometimes hilariously about their lives, desires, and vulnerabilities, creating a book that is an instance par excellence of what was once upon a time called “The New Journalism.” The Corpse Walker reveals a fascinating aspect of modern China, describing the lives of normal Chinese citizens in ways that constantly provoke and surprise.
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The Corpse Walker introduces us to regular men and women at the bottom of Chinese society, most of whom have been battered by life but have managed to retain their dignity: a professional mourner, a human trafficker, a public toilet manager, a leper, a grave robber, and a Falung Gong practitioner, among others. By asking challenging questions with respect and empathy, Liao Yiwu managed to get his subjects to talk openly and sometimes hilariously about their lives, desires, and vulnerabilities, creating a book that is an instance par excellence of what was once upon a time called “The New Journalism.” The Corpse Walker reveals a fascinating aspect of modern China, describing the lives of normal Chinese citizens in ways that constantly provoke and surprise.
Product Details
Paperback (352 pages)
Published: May 5, 2009
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Imprint: Anchor
ISBN: 9780307388377
Other books byLiao Yiwu
  • God Is Red

    God Is Red
    The Secret Story of How Christianity Survived...
    When journalist Liao Yiwu first stumbled upon a vibrant Christian community in the officially secular China, he knew little about Christianity. In fact, he'd been taught that religion was evil, and that those who believed in it were deluded, cultists, or imperialist spies. But as a writer whose work has been banned in China and has even landed him in jail, Liao felt a kinship with Chinese Christians in their unwavering commitment to the freedom of expression and to finding meaning in a tumultuous society. Unwilling to let his nation lose memory of its past or deny its present, Liao set out to document the untold stories of brave believers whose totalitarian government could not break their faith in God, including: The over-100-year-old nun who persevered in spite of beatings, famine, and decades of physical labor, and still fights for the rightful return of church land seized by the government The surgeon who gave up a lucrative Communist hospital administrator position to treat villagers for free in the remote, mountainous regions of southwestern China The Protestant minister, now memorialized in London's Westminster Abbey, who was executed during the Cultural Revolution as "an incorrigible counterrevolutionary" This ultimately triumphant tale of a vibrant church thriving against all odds serves as both a powerful conversation about politics and spirituality and a moving tribute to China's valiant shepherds of faith, who prove that a totalitarian government cannot control what is in people's hearts.

    For a Song and a Hundred Songs

    For a Song and a Hundred Songs
    A Poet's Journey through a Chinese Prison
    WINNER OF THE 2012 GERMAN BOOK TRADE PEACE PRIZE In June 1989, news of the Tiananmen Square protests and its bloody resolution reverberated throughout the world. A young poet named Liao Yiwu, who had until then led an apolitical bohemian existence, found his voice in that moment. Like the solitary man who stood firmly in front of a line of tanks, Liao proclaimed his outrage—and his words would be his weapon.   For a Song and a Hundred Songs captures the four brutal years Liao spent in jail for writing the incendiary poem “Massacre.” Through the power and beauty of his prose, he reveals the bleak reality of crowded Chinese prisons—the harassment from guards and fellow prisoners, the torture, the conflicts among human beings in close confinement, and the boredom of everyday life. But even in his darkest hours, Liao manages to unearth the fundamental humanity in his cell mates: he writes of how they listen with rapt attention to each other’s stories of criminal endeavors gone wrong and of how one night, ravenous with hunger, they dream up an “imaginary feast,” with each inmate trying to one-up the next by describing a more elaborate dish.   In this important book, Liao presents a stark and devastating portrait of a nation in flux, exposing a side of China that outsiders rarely get to see. In the wake of 2011’s Arab Spring, the world has witnessed for a second time China’s crackdown on those citizens who would speak their mind, like artist Ai Weiwei and legal activist Chen Guangcheng. Liao stands squarely among them and gives voice to not only his own story, but to the stories of those individuals who can no longer speak for themselves. For a Song and a Hundred Songs bears witness to history and will forever change the way you view the rising superpower of China.

    El paseante de cadaveres

    El paseante de cadaveres
    Retratos de la China profunda
    A masterful ensemble of journalistic narrations that takes readers into the heart of China, this collection of moving and piercing interviews of marginalized individuals inserts readers into the convulsive and terrible recent history of a country within which communism and economic development have coexisted alongside the realities of starvation and cannibalism, of torture and political control, and of violence and injustice. At the same time, the book leads readers through mesmerizing ancestral traditions and beliefs, providing a perspective of the Chinese reality that is completely different from the one that tends to circulate within Western media. One of the traditions depicted is that of the corpse walkers: people who are hired to transport those who died far from their places of origin back to their homes so their souls can find peace, a process carried out with mysterious and mythical processions in which the corpse is treated as if it were still alive.   Un magistral conjunto de relatos periodísticos que lleva al lector al corazón de la China, esta colección de estremecedoras y punzantes entrevistas a personajes marginales adentra al lector en la convulsa y terrible historia reciente de un país en el que el comunismo y el desarrollo económico han convivido con realidades de hambruna y canibalismo, de tortura y control político, y de violencia e injusticia. Al mismo tiempo, el libro transporta al lector por las encantadoras tradiciones y creencias ancestrales, proveyéndole una perspectiva de la realidad china completamente diferente a la que suele circular en los medios occidentales. Una de las costumbres descritas es la de los paseantes de cadáveres: personas que se contratan para transportar hasta su hogar a aquéllos que fallecieron fuera de su lugar de origen para que su alma pueda encontrar el descanso eterno, cuestión que llevan a cabo con misteriosas y místicas procesiones en las que el cadáver es tratado como si estuviera vivo.

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