Steel Gate to Freedom: The Life of Liu Xiaobo

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Product Details
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Publish Date
6.0 X 9.0 X 0.6 inches | 0.75 pounds

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About the Author
Yu Jie is an award-winning writer, one of China's most prominent essayists and critics, and a leading democracy activist and coauthor of Charter 08. His work has been banned in China since 2004, and he was arrested and tortured in 2010 for his close ties with Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo. Because of Yu's work on this biography, he was subjected to lengthy house arrest, as well as to kidnap and torture. A senior official in the Beijing security apparatus threatened Yu with a harsh prison sentence if he proceeded with his plans to publish. Yu had no choice but to leave China, bringing his wife and son with him to the United States in 2012.

HC Hsu is the author of Love Is Sweeter (2013) and Middle of the Night (2015). An award-winning essayist and short-story writer, his works have appeared in both English and Chinese. His translations of Hu Lancheng, Chu Tien-wen, Chen Kehua, Yuan Ch'iung-ch'iung, and others also have been widely published.
Political exile Yu presents the unvarnished biography of fellow activist Liu in this intimate portrait of the man "labeled 'the 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--along with Yu and others--a 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.
[Steel Gate to Freedom: The Life of Liu Xiaobo is] the only full-length biography of Liu, portraying him as a complex figure--devoted to political reform, idealistic, and unremittingly self-critical.... In these colorful and closely reported chapters, we see the daily rituals that held [Liu Xiaobo's and Liu Xia's] lives together.
This personal, affectionate, but also critical portrait of the famous dissident and Nobel Laureate provides rich new details on his childhood, personal life, professional relationships, and prison experiences. Above all, it traces the gradual development of Liu's political convictions and the personal philosophy that has made him such a respected leader, eloquent spokesman, and enduring symbol of the Chinese people's yearning for freedom.

This is a match made in heaven: Liu Xiaobo could never find a more diligent biographer than Yu Jie. And Yu Jie could never find a more compelling subject than Liu Xiaobo. Yu's portrayal of Liu's life not only covers his past but also looks toward the future and his struggle to create a new world: a beautiful story that has yet to be written. The Liu Xiaobo that Yu Jie portrays here is not a distant saint, but rather a real human being who comes to life in these pages.

Although we never met, I counted my fellow Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo as a friend, admiring his courage in pushing China toward political, legal, and constitutional reforms. It is important that the free world not forget him and other prisoners of conscience for exercising their freedom of expression.
To most people who have heard of Liu Xiaobo, the name means only one or another famous persona: star professor, imprisoned enemy of the state, or Nobel Laureate. In this lively and insightful book, Yu Jie, a long-time personal friend, reveals Liu as a human being in daily life: idealistic and ornery at the same time, addicted to his appetites, inveterately critical of both himself and others, always on the move, incapable of insincerity, and prodigiously intelligent. The best biography available in a Western language, this book should be read by all serious China watchers.