A new collection of writings by Tibetans inside Tibet, including extracts from books that are banned by the Chinese government and work by writers now in prison, was launched today (October 18) by the International Campaign for Tibet at the Frankfurt International Book Fair, the biggest literary trade event in the world (details of event below). The Chinese government is Guest of Honour at this year’s fair (October 14-18), and has caused controversy by seeking to block dissident voices.
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The new book, “Like Gold that Fears No Fire: New Writing from Tibet” features stories of imprisonment, interrogation, death and loss, as well as perspectives on a better future that reveal an unquenchable spirit and deeply-felt Tibetan identity. The stories, poems and essays in this rich and diverse collection focus on the experiences of Tibetans since a wave of overwhelmingly peaceful protests swept across Tibet from March 2008, to be met by a violent crackdown. Writers and artists are among hundreds of Tibetans who have faced torture and imprisonment for peaceful expression of their views.
In one book that was banned as soon as it was published in Tibet, a writer reflects: “In a year that turned out to be like a raging storm… how could we remain… in fear. [This work is] a sketch of history written in the blood of a generation.”
Since the protests began, the Chinese government has sought to cover up the disappearances and killings that have taken place across Tibet combined with a propaganda offensive against the exiled Tibetan leader, the Dalai Lama. The Tibetan writers featured in the book, most of whom are still in Tibet and China, dare to challenge China’s official version of events representing a more profound challenge to the Communist government than ever before.
“Like gold that fears no fire” opens with an original article by the most well-known Tibetan writer Woeser, an accomplished poet and one of the most eloquent and fiercest analysts of Chinese oppression in Tibet. Woeser’s important and powerful article outlines the importance of story-telling for an oppressed people to affirm their history and identity. Woeser argues that the events of 2008 are as significant in contemporary Tibetan history as those of March 1959, when tensions against the Chinese presence in Tibet escalated into an uprising, and led to the Dalai Lama’s escape into exile.
Like Gold that Fears no Fire also features:
- Reflections on Tibetan identity today by a blogger: “[Tibetans] are no longer just trying to fit into the Chinese national story; instead they are creating their own. It is a new cultural moment… [young Tibetans] are starting to have the chance to be many things and at the same time still be Tibetan.”
- Powerful poetry by writers inside Tibet and in exile
- The diary of an interrogation by a Tibetan writer
- An essay by Tibetan scholar Lamajabb, who finds the cause of the protests that convulsed the plateau not in some phantom instigation of the ‘Dalai clique’ but “in the tragic Tibetan history that began in the 1950s and the shortcomings of China’s Tibet policy”
- Lyrics of a song by monks imprisoned in Tibet
- Contemporary art by Tibetan artists now in exile with commentary
- The first English translation of a section of a book by Tibetan author Dolma Kyab, serving ten and a half years in prison as a result of his manuscript
Launch of book at literary salon, Frankfurt, October 18
“Like Gold that Fears No Fire: New Writing from Tibet,” was launched at a literary salon organized by ICT on Sunday, October 18, featuring actor and activist Hannes Jaenicke and a Tibetan literature scholar. Venue: Frankfurt Book Fair, Forum Dialogue, 6.1. E 913.