‘Wuhan’: Liao Yiwu’s amazing blend of fantasy and reality | NDR.de – Culture

Status: 01/31/2022 1:48 PM

Writer and musician Liao Yiwu is the winner of the German Peace Prize for the book trade. Now his new novel is out. “Wuhan – Documentary Novel” is an incredibly exciting journey to China during the Corona period.

by Katja Esbach

On February 26, 2020, Chinese citizen journalist Li Zhihua, also known as Kcriss, went missing. He chased himself with the police through Wuhan. Kcriss wanted nothing less than to know if the new virus circulating at the moment originated in the city’s heavily guarded laboratory. Wuhan has already been under lockdown for a month. Kcriss was monitored by the police and eventually followed him home. From there it goes live:

“Kcriss left a record of his arrest as a child in the age of the internet, so many unforgettable and relatively complete impressions that he uploaded them in parallel to YouTube, where they were shared countless times and copied so the empire could never erase them. This is unique in the history of arrests from before dictatorial regimes inside and outside China.”
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Endless cat and mouse game to post and delete

Kcriss is real, and his fate has caught the attention of many observers around the world. Liao Yiwu dedicates to him the first chapter of his novel and his struggle for truth. He then introduces the fictional character of historian Ai Ding. After a year of searching, he returned to China.

Ironically, on January 23, 2020, Wuhan was locked down. That is why he is not allowed to return to the home of his wife and child, but must be in forced quarantine in another city. There Ai, out of boredom, begins to deal with the origin of the virus and the situation in his homeland:

“There were regular reports of deaths. The citizens of Wuhan, sentenced to house arrest, competed to upload self-made videos (…) because with the outbreak of the epidemic there was no need to worry about the police being at the door and issuing warnings or arresting someone What. However, the Internet Police has been constantly deleting, warning, banning and implementing the endless cat-and-mouse game of delete, post, post, delete.”
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“Wuhan”: an exciting blend of fiction and documentation

Liao Yiwu’s novel is an exciting blend of fiction and documentaries. The story of his hero Ai Ding made up, real Ai research facts. It has to do with the origin of the virus, but it is also about the long history of planned information suppression in China. Liao Yiwu recounts the true case of ophthalmologist Li Wenliang, who warned early on about the virus and later died of it:

Eight doctors spread the same message and quickly turned into “rumormongers” who violated national law, warning them and forcing them to shut their mouths. A little later, China Central Television denied the rumors. On January 3, the police summoned Li Wenliang to the local police station and issued a warning after a hearing.
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Stylized, gentle language with a strong impact

After two weeks of enforced quarantine, Ai Ding is allowed to return to his home in Wuhan on a motorbike. What happens next is so absurd and crazy that you can hardly believe it. He leads Ai through the world of Kafka. There are laws that have taken on a life of their own, bureaucracy is out of control, and there are no legal solutions to this. The government relies on propaganda and slogans:

Corona It’s okay just obey the party!
Without a mouth guard out of the house, there is no human being, but a louse!
Jump in the New Year, this is an enemy, don’t let an enemy in!
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Liao Yiwu’s language is often flowery and gentle. The effect was even stronger, he also wrote about the ruthless cruelty of Chinese rulers. It combines fiction and facts so elegantly and sensibly that readers find their way around without any problems.

More information

Many exciting books will be released this year. For example by Heinz Strink, Yasmina Reza, Ralph Rothman and Isabel Allende. more


by Liao Yiwu

page number:
352 pages
a novel
Q Fisher
Release date:
January 26 2022
Order number:
24.00 EUR

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Culture NDR | New books | 01/31/2022 | 12:40 pm

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