Yan Lianke

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Date: 1958 - Present

Region: Asia

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion

Medium: Literature


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Artist: Yan Lianke

Confronting Bodies: Chinese government officials, Central Propaganda Department

Dates of Action: 2004/2005 (incidents involving the same author happened multiple times since 1994)

Location: China

Description of Artwork: Fictional novels criticizing life under the Communist Party.

The Incident: Yan Lianke has had several of his novels banned in China since his first in 1994. The most notorious incident came in 2005 when his novella Serve the People was published in a literary magazine. The story focuses on an army officer's wife who finds that destroying her husband's Mao icons enhances her sexual desire for a man she is having an affair with. When the Central Propaganda Department discovered that this story was the reason the magazine was selling so well, they recalled 30,000 copies and banned further distribution.

More recently, his book The Dream of Ding Village has had a publishing ban placed on it. In this fictional novel, the peasants of Ding Village are encouraged to give so much blood that the government builds a pipeline for it. The banning of the book comes in its dealing with AIDS, which is a very sensitive topic in China. A donation from the publishing firm to the village behind the story was in his contract, but Yan had to assume responsibility for this himself when the company refused to pay due to suffering huge losses.

Results of Incident: Yan Lianke plans to write two versions of his next novel. One will be a watered down version for China while the other uncensored version will be published abroad. He also has taken efforts to make the story clearly fantasy to escape the censor's veto.

Source: Washington Post