Paper Republic: Chinese Literature Matters

Fang Fang’s Wuhan Diary: Dissed for ‘Washing Dirty Linen’ before Foreign Eyes

cover image

It was bad enough that author Fang Fang (方方) has regularly posted her popular Wuhan Diary (武汉日记) on China’s social media, offering her personal — and not occasionally, critical — comments on the effects of the deadly epidemic during the lockdown, penned at Ground Zero. Reports The Diplomat (Conscience of Wuhan):

. . . each entry in Fang’s Wuhan Diary has been consistently deleted by Beijing’s censors within an hour or so of it being posted on Fang’s social media page. Yet each post has gone viral before being struck down, being shared by millions of WeChatters within China and abroad.

attached to: Fengcheng Riji


# 1.   

Hi Bruce Have you read a paper by the famous Global Times insulting Fang Fang on the release in English and German, of her Wuhan diaries?

bertrand MIALARET, April 10, 2020, 1:11p.m.

# 2.   

Sorry Bruce , I did not properly go through your paper.

bertrand MIALARET, April 10, 2020, 1:16p.m.

# 3.   

No, Bruce, her posts have not been constantly deleted within an hour or so, it happened from time to time, and she said it humorously at the beginning of one of her posts : 天又晴了。阴阴晴晴,有点像我的封城日记,开开封封。 Il fait beau, de nouveau. Il fait mauvais un jour, beau le lendemain, c’est comme mon journal, autorisé un jour, bloqué le lendemain. Then when her weixin account was blocked, she managed to publish on Caixin, and there was no problem. The German cover saying "the forbidden diary coming from the town where the coronavirus started" is just basely commercial. She gave an interview today, published on weixin, to explain how she sold all her rights to an American agent, and that she does not speak any language, so how can she know how it is published... not very convincing really. What's sure is that her Chinese readers who have been reading her posts first thing in the morning for sixty days and loved her, admired her, she had become the writer who dared to speak... these same readers now feel betrayed, and they are siding with the government. That's the saddest, she has lost the aura she had, which enabled her to stand up and talk, almost freely. Because she had the mass of the people behind her.

Brigitte Duzan, April 10, 2020, 6:51p.m.

# 4.   

Chen Dongmei put it nicely while chatting on Paper-Republic's group WeChat (brackets <> are mine):


Bruce Humes, April 10, 2020, 8:34p.m.

# 5.   

yes, this is a very good point. In fact the question was not so much about censured/not censured, but about : why was Fang Fang's journal NOT censured, in a context where everybody else was - and many people even disappeared and are now under investigation. Many people think that, in addition to, or rather beyond the "self-healing" therapy (自我疗愈) Chen Dongmei is talking about, the journal had a socio-political function, used by the regime : at a time when tension was high, it served as a valve to let some air out of the pressure-cooker that was threatening to explode. Therefore the feelings of betrayal, on all sides.

Brigitte Duzan, April 11, 2020, 4:32a.m.

# 6.   

In this interview, Fang Fang defends herself against her critics who have been vociferous.

Briefly, she says that: she doesn't know English or German, and therefore was not fully aware of how her diary was being marketed via cover blurbs; that since she learned of the wording, she has obtained the English publisher's agreement to reword and let her proof before they proceed; and is in the process of negotiating similar agreement with the German publisher:


Bruce Humes, April 12, 2020, 2:11a.m.

# 7.   

For an update on China's domestic reaction to Fang Fang's diary, and English excerpts from it, read (published by *NYT*, Apr 15):

She Kept a Diary of China’s Epidemic. Now She Faces a Political Storm.

Bruce Humes, April 14, 2020, 9p.m.

# 8.   

Of so many dates of a year, Harpers Colins chooses a very sensitive date to publish the book and makes itself unfriendly to Chinese government.It is not wise to do so.

Old Zhang, April 16, 2020, 10:40a.m.

# 9.   

As of April 17, two key changes in German edition (at least on Amazon):

  1. Cover no longer visible
  2. Launch date now June 9, not June 4

Check it out:

Bruce Humes, April 16, 2020, 10p.m.

# 10.   

It's a need to know not a want to know situation

Nik, May 19, 2020, 3:09a.m.


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