Graywolf Press announced Thursday its latest major acquisition: the nonprofit literary press will publish in 2012 a bilingual edition of June Fourth Elegies, a collection of poems written by Chinese writer Liu Xiaobo, winner of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. June Fourth Elegies, inspired by the June 4, 1989 massacre at Tiananmen Square, will be the first time a collection of the Chinese dissident’s poetry will be published in English. Poet Jeffrey Yang, an editor at New Directions Publishing, will translate Liu’s poems from the Chinese.
In a deal struck with Yang and with Liu’s literary agent, Peter Bernstein, Graywolf has secured world rights – excluding Chinese languages – to June Fourth Elegies.
Liu, who is serving an 11-year prison term in China for “inciting subversion of state power,” was one of the leading activists of the non-violent protest at Tiananmen Square, and was one of the architects of the Charter 08 manifesto. Much of Liu’s writing has been confiscated due to his public criticism of the Chinese government; June Fourth Elegies has yet to be published in China.
Harvard University Press announced last week that the academic press will publish in early 2012 a collection of 31 critical essays about life in contemporary China written by Liu and compiled by his wife, Liu Xia. This book will also include some of Liu’s poems.
Neither Liu, nor his friends and family will be allowed to attend the Nobel ceremony in Oslo Friday, making it the first time there will be no one present to accept the award since 1936.