A Worldwide Reading for Li Bifeng
The exiled Chinese author Liao Yiwu, the International Literaturfestival Berlin, and a group of prominent international authors are jointly appealing for an international reading on June 4 in support of the imprisoned Chinese author Li Bifeng. The appeal calls on universities, radio and television stations, theaters, and other cultural institutions to hold readings of Li's works, or of works related to Li's plight.
Li is a well-known local author in Chengdu, where he was part of a vibrant literary scene (read some of his writings here). He is an old friend of Liao, and the two were imprisoned in the aftermath of the June 4, 1989 suppression of pro-reform demonstrations in Beijing and other cities. Liao mentions Li in his memoirs, which recently have been published in English. Liao fled China in 2011 (read a New York Review Q&A with him here).
Liao has repeatedly said, however, that Li had nothing to do with his dramatic escape from China by foot--Li was arrested again shortly after Liao's flight and some have speculated that the two events are linked. Liao joking calls Li "the record-holder of failed escapes…. How could Liao Yiwu, plotting a slip-away himself, possibly seek help from someone who himself tried it so often, and failed every single time?"
Liao is joined in initiating the appeal by the Beijing dissident artist Ai Weiwei, American Book Award winner Ha Jin, Nobel literature prize winner Herta Müller, and three-time Booker Prize winner Salman Rushdie.
For more information, please visit literaturfestival.com.