Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Corpse Walker

I just finished The Corpse Walker: Real-life stories, China from the Bottom Up by Liao Yiwu. It was a fascinating read. I found myself pulled into the stories of 27 people Yiwu interviewed - from the migrant worker to the former Red Guard to the 103-year-old Buddhist Abbot.

These are "voices from the bottom of Chinese social outcasts," whom Yiwu talked with over several years. This book is just a few of the interviews he's done, taken from his original work in Chinese which spanned three volumes.

These are first-hand accounts of the famine of 1959-1962, the Cultural Revolution, Tiananmen Square, and other events in recent Chinese history. Theirs are heartbreaking, shocking experiences of torture and abuse at the hands of government officials and the fanatical following of Mao's words which turned the culture upside down and ruined the countryside.

Yiwu does an excellent job of honestly recording the interviewees voice, viewpoint and experiences. As a result, some interviews are full of swear words. However, if you want an unwashed view of how the Chinese have survived the past 50 years, this is a book for you to read.

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