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Articles tagged "Censorship"

Liu Xia’s “Empty Chairs”

Poet and photographer Liu Xia lives amongst dolls in her poetry collection, Empty Chairs. Under house arrest and panoptically watched by the People’s Republic of China in the wake of the incarceration of her husband, Nobel Peace Prize recipient Liu Xiaobo, for “subversion of the state,” Liu’s collection resides in a place of isolation, a place brimming with shadows, specters, and half-issued words. It is from this interval of confinement­­––a...

Between Two Worlds: An Interview with Goli Taraghi

Nahid Mozaffari spoke with Goli Taraghi on the telephone in October 2013. The following is an edited transcript of that conversation. Nahid Mozaffari:  Ms. Taraghi, you are one of the very few Iranian writers who has had the experience of exile as well as the experience of living in Iran after the revolution of 1979. You spend much of your time in Tehran, publish your work in Persian, teach, and have a large readership in Iran. At the same time, you frequently travel and spend time in...

I Want to Call Her Mother Again

My mother’s last words to us as we stood in the middle of the empty potato field, her voice carrying above the razor-sharp wind that seemed to carve away at our flesh, still ring in my ears. “You’re on your own now. I don’t have the strength to go any farther with you two.” Despite the howling wind that ripped and tore at my body, I felt no pain. Even when my frostbitten toes began to rot and ooze with pus, it did not hurt. Nothing could have hurt more than...

The Poet Who Asked for Forgiveness

At its essence, the purpose of North Korean literature is to praise the Korean Workers’ Party. While South Korean poetry deals with topics such as love or life, North Korean poetry refers only to Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il, and Kim Jong-un, constantly reinventing itself as a mechanism of hymnal thought-control. In North Korea, whatever literary genius poets may possess, ignoring Party ideology in their work is a certain path to being mentally or physically broken by the state. This...

Awakening the Individual Consciousness

This essay is part of “What Kind of China do We Want?,” a project of the Foreign Policy Initiative to inform the American public about the ideas and goals of China’s intellectuals, activists and dissidents.  It was noon on a summer’s day in 1966.  The weather was hot, so my grandmother took us to have lunch under the shade of a tree.  Just as the food was being put on the table, a foul burning smell came from over the horizon, making it difficult to...

An Interview with Yan Lianke

At Thinkers Café, a dimly lit café near Peking University, Yan Lianke chooses a side table with a desk lamp that flickers on and off as we speak. The outspoken author and ex-military man is strikingly mild-mannered. Yan enlisted in the army when he was a teenager. He spent the next two decades as a military propaganda writer, while testing the state censors’ limits and his army superiors’ patience with an increasingly ambitious and politically pointed series...

An Interview with Chan Koon-chung

Chan Koon-chung’s gray, shoulder-length hair is a throwback to the seventies, when Chan founded an influential cultural and alternative lifestyle magazine, City Magazine. Chan has since made a point of being where the action is: City Magazine saw Hong Kong navigate the anxiety-filled return to Chinese sovereignty, and in the early nineties, Chan moved to Taiwan, where he worked in television during the transition to full democracy that had the country choose its first popularly...

Seizing Cervantes

When it all began, that is, when the Skeptic Party rose to power in the United Kingdom, in 2070, I was completely in favor. The group’s plan to completely forbid religious practice pleased me greatly. I was brought up in an intellectual environment, the son of a family that never believed in any god and always associated the religious figure with some guy with a double-digit IQ or a fanatical human bomb. I admit, I voted for the Skeptic Party as soon as it came into existence. But...

My Father’s Antenna

The rumor started to spread in the beginning of autumn, just after the first rains. Soon it became a certainty: the Belbal family had acquired a television set. To tell the truth, the villagers didn’t really know what a television set was, but that only served to enhance the tale. The watchman at the clinic was the first to recount how workers dressed in blue overalls had appeared one fine morning before the Belbals’ door and how they had unloaded an enormous crate from an old...

Animal Farm; or, a Short and Somewhat Political History of Comics in Poland

The Goat Polish comics began in 1919 with the publication in the Lvov satirical weekly Szczutek (“Fillip”) of With Fire and Sword; or, The Adventures of Mad Grześ, about a young soldier who battles enemies of Poland on various fronts.  For the next twenty years, the comics market developed slowly but systematically. Comics were published in magazines for both children and adults. Most were imported—among them Prince Valiant, Tarzan, and Mickey Mouse. The...

Broken

Ma Jian, the dissident Chinese author living in London, recently attended a talk by another Chinese author who raised his ire. Writing in the Times on the nineteenth anniversary of Tiananmen, Ma Jian described this author's recollections of 1989: "He said with a self-satisfied smirk that he was asleep in bed when it took place, and that he never joined the marches because he found them exhausting." To Ma Jian, the author's "carefree denial of the meaningful role of an artist in...

The Arrest of Heberto Padilla and Belkis Cuza Malé

Translator's Note: Belkis Cuza Malé's account of her arrest and that of her husband, Heberto Padilla, reveals intimate household details of what happens after the notorious knock at the door, the dreaded harbinger of the dangers to be faced when the full weight of a totalitarian state falls on an individual. The two Cuban poets, initial supporters of the Cuban Revolution, worked in state-sponsored cultural institutions. Padilla had held several government positions. His...

Of Words and Borders

As a writer, I have come to know that writers have the misfortune of being invited to speak on things about which they know absolutely nothing. What do I know about this magic string of words: "Hospitality knows no borders." All I know is that millions of innocent people have been killed or died fighting to preserve those things called borders, frontiers, boundaries, some kind of barriers against your friends or enemies, even if they are only potential enemies. Imagine a world without...

Texterminators

Introduction: War and Literature Two years ago I asked a carpenter who had done a good job for a friend to come to my home and build a bookcase that would house the many volumes scattered on the floor and under my bed for lack of space. The carpenter was a young, jovial man who enjoyed chatting when taking a break and sipping my Lebanese-Turkish coffee. Coffee encourages conversation, and each time we sipped coffee together, we'd get to know a bit more about each other. He was from...

An Interview with Hayun Jung

How easy was it for you, living in Seoul, to find work for the North Korea section of Literature from the "Axis of Evil" ? Because there are very few North Korean publications available to the outside world, and all the more so in South Korea, the only place I could gain access to North Korean literature in Seoul was the library at the Ministry of Reunification, where all periodicals from the North was available, including Choson Munhak, the official publication from NK's official...

Doors, Windows, and the Office of Foreign Assets Control

The Cuban novelist, essayist, musicologist, and diplomat Alejo Carpentier was celebrated during his lifetime as one of the greatest Latin American novelists of the twentieth century, and his reputation has only grown since his death in 1980. His own books, and the many books, articles and doctoral theses that continue to be written about his work, circulate widely in many languages, and lately more so than ever, since 2004 was the centennial of his birth. Though Carpentier has never had...

Iran in Theater

Last summer in New York, two Iranian theatre events cracked open a small window on a dramatically alien world. Each made its impact without benefit of a text that could be comprehended by the audience; and each in a very different way was emblematic of the chasm to be bridged in transposing theatre successfully from one culture to another. Atilla Pessyani's Mute Dream succeeded on its own terms by avoiding language altogether. On a set caged by wire net, a muffled and shrouded...

from The Moon and the Leopard

In The Moon and the Leopard, author Bijan Mofid developed a hint from a folk tale into a verse drama about the tragic love of the Leopard King for the Moon, first glimpsed as a reflection in a mountain spring. The Moon responds in kind, descending to earth-though she remains always just out of reach-to engage the Leopard in a poetic dialogue expressing their impossible and doomed love. By stopping in her course, the Moon stops time, leaving the world in an endless, freezing night. The...

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