The Corpse Walker: Real Life Stories: China from the Bottom Up

Liao Yiwu, Author, Wen Huang, Translator, Philip Gourevitch, Foreword by
Liao Yiwu, Author, Wen Huang, Translator, Philip Gourevitch, Foreword by , foreword by Philip Gourevitch. Pantheon $25 (320p) ISBN 978-0-375-42542-4
Reviewed on: 02/18/2008
Release date: 04/01/2008
Open Ebook - 978-0-307-37718-0
Paperback - 328 pages - 978-0-307-38837-7
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In this rich, often harrowing oral history, Chinese writer (and notorious target of censors) Liao travels to the margins of Chinese society, interviewing 27 outsiders from China's forgotten classes. The book contains an incredible cast of characters: a grave robber, a composer, a leper, a professional mourner paid to wail at funerals, a human trafficker and a delusional peasant who has anointed himself emperor. These conversations, largely recorded from memory, showcase Liao's empathy for his subjects and a particular talent for getting into tight situations; on one occasion, the author is forced to leap out of a three-story building when he fears the Communist government is targeting him for talking to a Falun Gong supporter. Liao's research took 11 years, and his final product is a stunning series of portraits of a generation and class of individuals ignored in history books and unacknowledged in the accounts of the “new” China. (Apr.)

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