Louis Esterhuizen. Britse eierdans rondom uitgeweke Chinese skrywers

Die huidige Chinese regering se vergryp aan menseregte is welbekend. So ook die Weste se slaphandigheid om standpunt teen dié ekonomiese reus in te neem.  Nou blyk dit dat die Londense Boekebeurs (LBF) hulle ook by hierdie verleentheid aangesluit het deurdat hulle die beurs vanjaar op die boekebedryf in China fokus, dog geen van die skrywers wat krities teenoor die Chinese regering staan, na dié belangwekkende geleentheid uitgenooi, óf betrek het nie.

Nietemin, danksy die bemiddeling van een van ons buitelandse korrespondente kon ek die korrespondensie tussen die uitgeweke digter, Bei Ling (foto), en die British Council, organiseerders van die boekebeurs, onder oë kry; fassinerende leesstof, inderdaad …

Bei Ling motiveer sy aanvanklike griefskrif soos volg: “I was astonished that no independent literature voice nor exiled writer from China is being represented at the London Book Fair programme. These voices include Nobel laureate (2000) Gao Xingjian, who today lives in his Parisian exile. Liu XiaoBo`s voice is also missing, the voice of the winner of the 2010 Nobel Prize for Peace and former president of ICPC.” Ander uitgeweke skrywers wat geïgnoreer is deur die organiseerders, en deur Bei Ling genoem word, is Liao Yiwu (oor wie Amanda Lourens onlangs geskryf het) en die gewilde romanskrywer Ma Jian wat in Londen woonagtig is. (Oor Liu XiaoBo het ek ook al vantevore berig.)

Hy sluit sy skrywe af met die volgende opmerking: “I do not want to present you with a long list of all of the important writers who should have been considered. However, it is more than apparent that only state-recognized authors are participating – but no independent voices. Works by independent and exiled Chinese authors are just as much a part of the current Chinese literary scene as the state-approving ones. Also shocking is the London Book Fair’s cooperation with the GAPP – the very ministry that’s responsible for censorship. My hope is to see the London Book Fair would also find space and time to discuss the topic of censorship, in China’s literary landscape.”(Terloops, GAPP is die akroniem vir General Administration of Press and Publication.)

Die British Council se reaksie (waaruit ek ongelukkig nie mag aanhaal nie), is inderdaad verlep (en polities korrek) soos verlede week se koolslaai in die yskas. Volgens The Guardian se berig egter die volgende: “Susie Nicklin of the British Council said the organisation had consulted hundreds of people in the UK and China to select the final list of people coming over for the LBF and that it was very important to the Council that ‘all sorts of voices are heard’. She said Bei had ‘got the wrong end of the stick’ in urging the presence of exiled authors on the programme, which she said was intended for people living and writing in China. Asked about the council’s co-operation with the Gapp, she said an official partner had been necessary for every year’s country-specific market focus event to take place. ‘Gapp is the department that this year is the organisation that we’re working with. Every year that we do the market focus we need to work with a main organisation.'”

Ook Alistair Burtenshaw, hoofdirekteur van die London Book Fair, word aangehaal en volgens hom is die LBF in wese ‘n besigheidsinisiatief waardeur blootstelling gegee word aan “new markets to the publishing sector, but it was also excited about the professional and cultural programme that would be presented.” Hiertoe het hy bygevoeg: “The London Book Fair welcomes a wide variety of informed voices to the fair across our 300 seminars and events and this includes authors from around the world and the global publishing community. We’re delighted to offer this platform for open debate and discussion.”

Nou ja, toe. Maar terug na Bei Ling se korrespondensie met die organseerders. In sy opvolgbrief open hy met ‘n omvattende relaas oor die stand van sensuur in die Chinese lettere: “In the last twenty years, Chinese news organizations and publishers have developed an insidious and painstaking system of ‘level-by-level examination’ of works by relevant departments of the publishing houses not only once or twice, but often three times and more. Publication of the chosen works also requires final evaluation and approval from municipal and provincial news and press bureaus. When denied only once, works cannot be published and there is no option of appeal.”

Vervolgens stel hy voor dat die organiseerders ‘n aparte, en parallellopende, uitstalling vir die Taiwannese boekbedryf aanbied en wel volgens die model wat die Franfurtse Boekebeurs verlede jaar gevolg het toe ook húlle voor die politieke druk van China moes swig deur aanvanklike uitnodigings aan einste Bei Ling en Dai Qing terug te trek. “From politics to literature, this area (Taiwan) featured hundreds of books that cannot be published in China, yet are sold in Taiwan where there is unfettered freedom of the press […] The absence of literary representation from these authors in China’s official publishing world is indisputable evidence of the need for more freedom for one of the world’s biggest publishing industries.”

In nog ‘n interessante verwikkeling het dié debakel tot gevolg gehad dat die Britse PEN hul betrokkenheid by die Londense Boekebeurs afgeskaal het. Sarah Hesketh, voorsitter van die English PEN word soos volg hieroor aangehaal: “We’re keen to engage in cultural exchange but at the same time we didn’t feel that given our human rights work in China … we could be seen to endorse an official state-sponsored delegation for whom there will be restrictions on what they can say.”

Inderdaad. En natuurlik besef ‘n mens dat ons hier ter plaatse darem steeds gronde tot dankbaarheid het; soos ons korrespondent dit in sy e-pos stel: “Dis nogal insiggewend om die materiaal in volgorde te lees. (En mens besef weer hoe gelukkig ons nog is om byna alles ‘wat die mark kan vat’ hier te publiseer – voorlopig – anders as in China, seker maar omdat ons skrywers so marginaal is.)”

Mmmm …

Vir jou leesplesier volg ‘n kort gedig deur Bei Ling hieronder.

 

***

 

Time Like a Fallen Horse

When the fallen horse of time
Bursts open, one moment takes one lifetime,
A gigantic horse-head lies, throat thinned
And collared by the clamping wind.

All faces are all enduring doomsday,
All together, as a kiss of steel, their due:
This final rinse of a dried-out night,
This riddle that runs the body through.

 

© Bei Ling (Vertaal deur AZ Foreman)

 

 

Bookmark and Share

Comments are closed.

  •