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

por Liao Yiwu

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3781466,606 (4.02)31
A compilation of twenty-seven extraordinary oral histories that opens a window, unlike any other, onto the lives of ordinary, often outcast, Chinese men and women. Liao Yiwu (one of the best-known writers in China because he is also one of the most censored) chose his subjects from the bottom of Chinese society: people for whom the "new" China--the China of economic growth and globalization--is no more beneficial than the old. Here are a professional mourner, a trafficker in humans, a leper, an abbot, a retired government official, a former landowner, a mortician, a feng shui master, a former Red Guard, a political prisoner, a village teacher, a blind street musician, a Falun Gong practitioner, and many others--people who have been battered by life but who have managed to retain their dignity, their humor, and their essential, complex humanity. Liao's interviews were given from 1990 to 2003.--From amazon.com.… (mais)
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I read this as a buddy read with the amazing Kate and truly enjoyed both the book and the wide- ranging discissions it inspired.

This is an oral history of people living in the post-Cultural Revolution China. Obviously the government did not and does not allow this sort of discussion, so the interviews were held in a clandestine way, often inside prisons, and Liao Yiwu was himself imprisoned for his work getting this information out to the world. He now lives in Germany.

I lived in China around the time many of these interviews were conducted, and I was honored that so many people shared their stories with me and my now ex-partner (his Chinese was far superior to my own, so really they were trusting in him more than me, but I was lucky enough to ride shotgun.) The stories here are completely in keeping with what we heard, though they are even more brutal. This information is so important to all of us, to fully see the danger of strongman government, of deifying a leader and closing your eyes to his lies until it is too late, and also to pay respect to those who suffered, and to better understand China as it is today. Liao often shared his opinions in the interviews, telling people they were terrible or guilty, or that their actions or the actions of other were wrong, and that really bothered me. Still, I am so grateful for his immense personal sacrifice to bring these stories to the world, and amplify the voices of people who had so much taken from them. ( )
  Narshkite | Oct 17, 2022 |
nonfiction/social history (various working class people providing oral histories involving the Cultural Revolution, famines and cannibalism, prison stories, persecution, and other bits of Chinese history)
( )
  reader1009 | Jul 3, 2021 |
Wrenching Vignettes

Each ten to fifteen page chapter tells a vignette or a story from one person on the lower rung of society in China. There are twenty some chapters written in interview format (the author wrote each interview based on conversations during which he took notes). The people interviewed include criminals, beggars, and many people put out by the government. The author does not give much historical context, which is not necessarily needed because historic events (famine, political upheavals, etc) are explained through the interviews.

"The Corpse Walker" is very easy to read, even with the heart-wrenching stories. It goes quickly. I would love to read the other interviews that are available in the Chinese version. ( )
  mvblair | Aug 9, 2020 |
Great, revealing stories about "normal" Chinese people, especially those whose daily lives are rarely glimpsed by outsiders. ( )
  richardSprague | Mar 22, 2020 |
A collection of interviews that Liao Yiwu has taken over a number of years. All of them are Chinese with varying backgrounds. Very thought provoking in that it is hard to believe people have lived like this! And the suffering and intolerances that have been put through. ( )
  camplakejewel | Sep 21, 2017 |
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A compilation of twenty-seven extraordinary oral histories that opens a window, unlike any other, onto the lives of ordinary, often outcast, Chinese men and women. Liao Yiwu (one of the best-known writers in China because he is also one of the most censored) chose his subjects from the bottom of Chinese society: people for whom the "new" China--the China of economic growth and globalization--is no more beneficial than the old. Here are a professional mourner, a trafficker in humans, a leper, an abbot, a retired government official, a former landowner, a mortician, a feng shui master, a former Red Guard, a political prisoner, a village teacher, a blind street musician, a Falun Gong practitioner, and many others--people who have been battered by life but who have managed to retain their dignity, their humor, and their essential, complex humanity. Liao's interviews were given from 1990 to 2003.--From amazon.com.

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