Paper Republic: Chinese Literature Matters

An Honest Writer Survives in China

*A little over a year ago, I went with the Chinese writer Yu Hua to his hometown of Hangzhou ... The high point was a boozy lunch where the head of the local writer’s association ogled the legs of the deputy head of propaganda, while a paunchy singer for the People’s Liberation Army showed off a “talented young lady” he had taken under his wing ... When everyone was suitably drunk, Yu quieted the room with an announcement.

“We were just at West Lake,” he said, referring to the city’s most famous tourist site. “I haven’t seen so many people in one place since June 4”—the 1989 massacre of antigovernment protesters in Beijing.

“Ha-ha, Yu Hua, only you,” the writer’s association chairman cackled as he cocked his head in Yu’s direction. “I live next door to him. Always joking.”

“What are you saying?” Yu said crossly. “Your only contribution to society is to file fake meal receipts.”

The chairman widened his eyes and was about to counterattack but everyone began laughing at him. He meekly bowed his head, whimpering: “We’re neighbors, we’re neighbors. Ha-ha. He’s joking.”*

attached to: Yu Hua


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