The people Liao Yiwu interviews exist on the fringe of Chinese society, and more than a few live closely with death. The mortician. The grave robber. The professional mourner, who now can’t be found.
All were from Sichuan province, the writer’s home and the center of China’s devastating May 12 earthquake. A month ago, it knocked Liao to one knee in his apartment compound. He struggled upright and started running; his home and family survived.
Now Liao is wandering the disaster zone, looking for its stories.
Liao’s writings, mostly banned in China but published in the West, often show those left behind by the country’s economic rise. His new collection will focus on how the quake, which killed more than 69,000 people, is upending lives.