cover image Steel Gate to Freedom: The Life of Liu Xiaobo

Steel Gate to Freedom: The Life of Liu Xiaobo

Yu Jie, trans. from the Chinese by H.C. Hsu. Rowman & Littlefield, $39 (232p) ISBN 978-1-4422-3713-1

Political exile Yu presents the unvarnished biography of fellow activist Liu in this intimate portrait of the man "labeled %E2%80%98the black hand' behind the Tiananmen student protests." Born during the Cold War, Liu's family's "dining table was a battleground" and his interest in writing began with membership in the Intellectual Youth; by 1984 he'd become a lecturer with a significant following. In diaristic form, Yu relates how Liu became involved in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and how he was arrested for his leading role. Liu was released but was arrested twice more in the 1990s. In 2003 he helped found the Independent PEN China Center and served as its president until 2007. Liu was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, but was unable to collect it as he was once again arrested, this time for his role in writing%E2%80%94along with Yu and others%E2%80%94a 2008 manifesto, Charter 08, which called for a multiparty system in China. Liu remains imprisoned, but Yu notes that the Internet has offered a way for Liu to communicate with the outside world and continue his political work. (July)