Posted by Joel Martinsen on Friday, January 19, 2007 at 8:31 PM
The Baidu news feed coughed up an article this afternoon from Singapore's Lianhe Zaobao that's a report on a South China Morning Post story concerning eight books that were banned by GAPP this week.
The titles mainly have to do with reflections on 20th century history by Chinese intellectuals; the SCMP cites an anonymous official who says they were included on a list of books that "stepped over the line" in 2006. Here's the list as printed in SCMP:
Perhaps coincidentally, the Mirror yesterday ended its serialization of The Press with the 70th installment, smack in the middle of a chapter (see China Media Project for details).
Some quotes from the SCMP:
Zeng Pengyu, a reporter with the Beijing Youth Daily, wrote about Past Stories of Actors on his blog back in November. He noted that the publisher was cautious, and predicted that the authorities would ultimately pull the book:
Past Stories of Actors are Not Like Smoke
Last month I went to Taipei. As soon as I walked into the Chengpin Bookstore, I saw Zhang Yihe's new book, Past Stories of Actors, placed in the most eye-catching position, and I was ecstatic. Prior to this she had published a book called "A gust of wind carries away the verses of the ages" - a line from Peking Opera - that talked of Mei Lanfang and Ma Lianliang; it was in its second edition in Taiwan. Past Stories of Actors is her third book, and it talks of famous Peking Opera actors like Shang Xiaoyun, Ye Shenglan, Yan Huizhu and the suffering and obliteration they encountered during the Cultural Revolution.
I did not think twice but handed over the money for the two books, which together cost me NT$600, or RMB 150 yuan, truly expensive. Back at the hotel when the other members of my party saw them, they all ran off to the bookstore to make purchases; when we returned to Beijing later on, practically everyone had a set, and I brought back a number of copies for colleagues in Beijing.
Cover of the Taiwan edition.
The second day of my return, I saw on Joyo that there was a mainland edition of this book, also called Past Stories of Actors, and I almost fainted because the price was just 29 yuan. Looking at the table of contents it was basically the same as the Taiwan version, but like The Past is Not Like Smoke, the mainland version had expunged quite a bit of sensitive detail, particularly opinions on the Cultural Revolution that were at odds with the leaders. So the true, complete versions are still the Taiwan and Hong Kong versions.
Last week I sent a reporter out for an interview, planning to publish it in this week's book section. It turned out that the reporter came back empty-handed. Inquiring why, I found that the publisher did not dare to do promotion, afraid of causing problems. But with The Past is Not Like Smoke as the lead car, the fact that Past Stories of Actors was able to have a mainland version is something almost unheard of.
If you do not want to have the same regret as The Past is Not Like Smoke, then go buy a copy of Past Stories of Actors quick - don't delay a minute. Wordly affairs are unpredictable; nonchalance may still be possible today, but who knows whether things will all go bad tomorrow?
Update: Zeng also points out that as of this evening, Joyo only has Past Stories and The Press for sale; the other titles are "out of stock." Dangdang has six of the titles available, but the rest are out of stock.
Also: See Zhang Yihe's response, translated at ESWN.
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