The Corpse Walker: Real Life Stories: China From the Bottom Up
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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.
responsibility. So I was sent back to Hesheng Township, my hometown. LIAO: All those beatings and tortures didn't do much to change your mind. CHEN: When local police and township government officials heard about my return, they treated me as if I were a devil who was out to ruin their careers. They spent a whole night figuring out ways to control me. Finally, they reached a collective decision: Ms. Chen's obsession with Falun Gong has caused her to lose her mind. She is suffering from grave
is requested. If it's a grand funeral and the money is good, we do lots of improvisations to please the host. I left home and came southwest to Sichuan Province at the age of sixteen. Sichuan was a wealthier place than Henan, and people were willing to blow big money on weddings and funerals. I became pretty famous not long after I arrived here. This is a profession, like acting in a play or a movie. Once you have started, you gradually grow into the role. In a movie, the actor follows a script.
get over her. I began to hang out with her in 1956. LIAO: I can imagine the challenges of dating someone who was incompatible with you politically. My sister used to date a military officer during the Cultural Revolution. Before a military officer or a government official got married, the Party had to conduct thorough background checks on the future spouse's family before granting approval. My sister's boyfriend had to break up with her because my grandfather used to be a landlord. In your case,
become quite busy and prosperous. During planting and harvesting season, the shop would stay open until midnight. Farm tools that needed to be fixed piled up like a small hill. Anyhow, after we passed the blacksmith's shop, we were right there in front of the commune office compound. The Shanya Commune Party secretary came out to greet us and welcomed us into the commune. One official brought out the kerosene and gas lamps, and within minutes, the conference room was brightly lit. Then the cook
so grossed out. I covered my mouth and dashed out for some fresh air. A few minutes later, I pulled myself together and returned. I brushed his teeth, and pumped bottles and bottles of formaldehyde into his stomach. It was like washing a toilet bowl. After I worked on it for a whole afternoon, that angry, distorted face was finally turned into a friendly one, with the smile that everyone remembered. The Red Guards were really touched by my work and my perfectionist attitude. They put a Red Guard