China Bars Liao Yiwu from Attending Sydney Writers’ Festival

Poet Liao Yiwu has been prevented from traveling to Australia to speak at the Sydney Writers’ Festival, the Guardian reports:

Liao was due to talk about his new book, The Corpse Walker, in Sydney, and to read from his poetry. The Corpse Walker, 11 years in the writing, records the lives of 27 “outsiders from China’s forgotten classes”, from a grave robber to a leper, and a professional mourner, paid to wail at funerals.

The festival’s artistic director Chip Rolley said he was “deeply disappointed” by the decision to ban Liao from travelling. “Our primary concern is for Liao Yiwu who has been denied the fundamental right to express his views freely,” said Rolley in a statement. “We are astonished by the Chinese government’s additional demand that he not publish his works internationally.”

Liao’s works are banned in China but published in English, German, French, Japanese and Spanish. PEN said concerns are mounting that the author may face arrest when his new book God is Red, about the history of Christianity in China, appears in August.

This is not the first time that Liao has been barred from traveling abroad; read an account by Philip Gourevitch of Liao’s first trip abroad, to German literary festivals, after many attempts.

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