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June Fourth Elegies (Lannan Translation Selection)by Xiaobo Liu
Synopses & Reviews
The first publication of the poetry of 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Winner Liu Xiaobo, with a Foreword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Liu Xiaobo has become the foremost symbol of the struggle for human rights in China. He was a leading activist during the Tiananmen Square protests of June 4, 1989, and a prime supporter of Charter 08, the manifesto of fundamental human rights published in 2008. In 2009, Liu was imprisoned for “inciting subversion of state power,” and he is currently serving an eleven-year sentence. He was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for “his prolonged non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.” Liu dedicated his Peace Prize to “the lost souls from the Fourth of June.”
June Fourth Elegies presents Lius poems written across twenty years in memory of fellow protestors at Tiananmen Square, as well as poems addressed to his wife, Liu Xia. In this bilingual volume, Lius poetry is for the first time published freely in both English translation and in the Chinese original.
"Xiaobo won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, but could not visit Sweden to collect it: he was then, and remains, in prison in China for the human rights activism that began with his part in the demonstrations of 1989 at Tiananmen Square and continued, in and out of jails and labor camps, for the next 20 years. Each spring — whether incarcerated or 'at home in Beijing' — Xiaobo wrote a poem to commemorate the Tiananmen victims. Those raw, yet reflective, sometimes nightmarish elegies make up the bulk of this bilingual edition, put into clear English by the poet Yang (Vanishing-Line), whose extraordinarily useful afterword puts Xiaobo's sharp and sometimes allusive lines into both Chinese literary and historical context. Xiaobo rebukes his nation, 'used to memorializing tombs as palaces,' and his 'city of near perfect/ shamelessness.' He also casts a harsh eye on himself: 'Self-consciousness is disaster's survivor,' he reflects; 'I'll strive to feel astonishment or shame.' 'Even if I have the courage/ to be jailed again,' Xiaobo writes, 'it isn't courage enough/ to excavate memories of the dead.' Yang also includes other works by Xiaobo: an outraged essay about 'the road of resistance I've chosen' and the materialism of modern China, penned in 2000; at the back, five quiet love poems to Xiaobo's wife, herself now under house arrest." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Liu Xiaobo is a political activist and writer. He was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.
Jeffrey Yang is the author of two poetry collections and an editor at New Directions Publishing.
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