The Corpse Walker: Real Life Stories: China From the Bottom Up
The Corpse Walker introduces us to regular men and women at the bottom of Chinese society, most of whom have been battered by life but have managed to retain their dignity: a professional mourner, a human trafficker, a public toilet manager, a leper, a grave robber, and a Falung Gong practitioner, among others. By asking challenging questions with respect and empathy, Liao Yiwu managed to get his subjects to talk openly and sometimes hilariously about their lives, desires, and vulnerabilities, creating a book that is an instance par excellence of what was once upon a time called “The New Journalism.” The Corpse Walker reveals a fascinating aspect of modern China, describing the lives of normal Chinese citizens in ways that constantly provoke and surprise.
began to wonder whether the pond was built inside the jail or outside. It couldn't have been inside because I had never seen prison staff clean out the pond. But, if the pond was outside, was it an open one or was it covered like a manhole with a lid on it? How big and heavy could the lid be? One day, as I was squatting inside the latrine, I vaguely heard noises coming from outside the prison. I held my breath and pushed my ear against the wall. It sounded like someone was scooping out the human
of the Taiwanese pop singer Tong Ange. I loved his songs too. I wanted to marry her but couldn't. You don't have to tell your girlfriend about your profession, but you need to share everything with your wife. That's the Chinese tradition, isn't it? LIAO: How did you get caught this time? CUI: Two years had passed since I escaped. I thought the coast was clear. I returned to Chongqing. One day, I made a bet with a couple of old buddies, saying that I could easily break into a new type of
included my friends and a lot of other people. I didn't even dare to raise my head. I simply read the list mechanically. The meeting became very tense. Initially, people held their breath, waiting to hear who would be the next to be implicated. It was like I had one hundred grenades hanging around my mouth. Each time I uttered an item, I could hear an explosion in the audience. Soon the volume of their responses got louder and louder. One woman suffered a nervous breakdown right there. Let me
herself all the time. It's horrible. LIAO: In China, musicians are low-class performers for hire. Few dare to challenge authorities. Many musicians, writers, and artists have become favorites for being the Party's mouthpieces. For example, poet He Jingzhi became the minister of culture for writing revolutionary poems filled with lavish praise for new China. Singer Hu Songhua became famous and enjoyed the “People's Artist” title for thirty-some years for singing one song, “The Song of Praises.”
After all, he was just a kid. Even if they threw him in jail or a labor camp for a couple of years, it wouldn't be a big deal. We had witnessed persecution before and there was nothing to be ashamed of. LIAO: The whole world saw the tapes of the bloody crackdown. The Chinese were the last ones to learn the truth. WU: Xinjing is a small town. The Communist Party did a good job of blocking news. We didn't know anything about the killings. LIAO: Didn't any of his classmates from Beijing contact