“Wuhan”: The fascinating mix of Liao Yiwu fiction and facts | NDR.de – Culture

Status: 31.01.2022 13:48

Writer and musician Liao Yiwu is the winner of the German Book Trade Peace Prize. Now his new novel has come out. “Wuhan – documentary novel” is a very exciting trip to China during the Corona period.

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5 min

by Katja Essbach

On February 26, 2020, Chinese citizen journalist Li Zehua, also known as Kcriss, disappeared. He had pursued himself with police through Wuhan. Kcriss wanted nothing less than to find out if the new virus that was rampant at the moment could have originated in the city’s high security lab. Wuhan had already been in solitary confinement for a month. Kcriss was monitored by police and eventually pursued home. From there he broadcasts a live broadcast:

“Kcriss left a record of his arrest as a child of the Internet age, many memorable and relatively complete impressions after uploading it in parallel on YouTube, where it was endlessly distributed and copied so that the Empire could no longer erase it. “This is quite unique in the history of arrests by dictatorial regimes inside and outside China.”
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Endless cat and mouse game of posting and deleting

Kcriss is real and his fate has attracted the attention of many observers around the world. Liao Yiwu dedicates the first chapter of his novel to him and his struggle for truth. He then introduces the fictional character of historian Ai Ding. After a year of searching, he returned to China.

Ironically, on January 23, 2020, the day Wuhan closed. That is why he is not allowed to go home to his wife and child, but must be in forced quarantine in another city. There he, initially out of boredom, begins to deal with the origin of the virus and the situation in his country:

“There were regular reports of deaths. The citizens of Wuhan, sentenced to house arrest, competed to upload self-made videos (…) because with the rage of the epidemic they did not have to worry that the police would be at the door and issue warnings. “Or arrest someone. However, the internet police constantly deleted, warned, stopped and enforced the endless cat game with the mouse delete and post, post and delete.”
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“Wuhan”: exciting mix of fiction and documentation

Liao Yiwu’s novel is an exciting mix of fiction and documentary. The story of his hero Ai Ding is fabricated, the facts He researches are real. It is about the origin of the virus, but also about the long history of planned printing of information in China. Liao Yiwu tells the true story of ophthalmologist Li Wenliang, who early warned of the virus and later died of it:

Eight doctors had spread the same message and were quickly “gossipers” who had violated national law, received a warning and were forced to keep their mouths shut. Shortly afterwards, Chinese Central Television denied the rumors. On January 3, police called Li Wenliang at the local police station and issued a warning after a hearing.
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Flowering, soft tongue with a strong effect

After his two-week forced quarantine, Ai Ding is allowed to travel home to Wuhan on a motorbike. What happens then is so absurd and crazy that you can hardly believe it. He goes through a Kafkaesque world. There are rules that have taken their lives, bureaucracy is out of control and there is no legal solution to this. The government relies on propaganda and slogans:

Corona, there is nothing wrong, just convince the party!
Without a mouth guard from the house there is no one, it is lice!
Enter the New Year, this is an enemy, do not let an enemy enter!
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Liao Yiwu’s tongue is often flowery and soft. The effect is even stronger, he writes of the ruthless harshness of Chinese rulers. It combines fiction and facts in an elegant and believable way that readers will find their way without any problems.

additional information

A woman and two men look at a selection of books on shelves full of books and stacks - photo at the Frankfurt Book Fair © imago / Rupert Oberhäuser Photo: Rupert Oberhäuser

Many exciting books will be coming out this year. For example by Karl Ove Knausgård, Yasmina Reza, Orhan Pamuk and Fatma Aydemir. more


by Liao Yiwu

Page Number:
352 pages
Date of issue:
January 26, 2022
Order number:
€ 24.00

This topic in the program:

NDR Culture New books 31.01.2022 | 12:40 pm

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