PEN American Center at The New School: Poet, novelist, musician, and documentarian Liao Yiwu is one of China's most exciting and most censored writers. In his first U.S. appearance in nearly twenty years, Mr. Liao will be introduced by PEN World Festival founder and chair Salman Rushdie and interviewed by journalist Philip Gourevitch. The guest will read from his forthcoming book God Is Red: The Story of How Christianity Survived and Flourished in Communist China, and perform on xiao (Chinese flute), which he learned to play in prison.Liao Yiwu has been called the "Studs Terkel of China" for his vivid literary portraits of the lives of ordinary Chinese. He was refused permission to travel to New York for the PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature earlier this year, but Liao escaped to Berlin via the Vietnamese border last July 6. He had been imprisoned for four years in the 1990s for his epic poem "Massacre," a condemnation of the Chinese government's bloody suppression of the 1989 demonstration at Tiananmen Square. He has endured constant harassment since. Though his books are banned in China, he continues to write. PEN President Kwame Anthony Appiah notes, "As it gets harder for independent-minded writers to leave China, an opportunity like this to hear directly from a great Chinese writer is an increasingly precious thing.""
Philip Gourevitch is a staff writer at The New Yorker. His books include "We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families: Stories from Rwanda" and, with Errol Morris, "The Ballad of Abu Ghraib."
Salman Rushdie is the author of eleven novels, including "The Moor’s Last Sigh," "The Enchantress of Florence," and "Midnight’s Children," which won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction and the Best of the Booker Award and has just been adapted for film. "Joseph Anton," his memoir about his years of struggle against the Iranian fatwa on his novel "The Satanic Verses," comes out in September. He has been contributing to The New Yorker since 1987.
Liao Yiwu is a Chinese author, reporter, musician, and poet. He is a critic of the Chinese regime, for which he has been imprisoned, and the majority of his writings are banned in China. Liao is the author of The Corpse Walker: Real Life Stories, China from the Bottom Up. In 2003, he received a Human Rights Watch Hellman-Hammett grant, and in 2007, he received a Freedom to Write Award from the Independent Chinese PEN Center.