I can’t tell you how cool this is (though I will try) — Liao Yiwu being introduced by Salman Rushdie, among others, playing music & then reading, nose to his own text, as if it were scripture.
He recently escaped from China by traveling overland from Yunnan province into Vietnam and somehow through Poland to Germany, where he has established himself, for the moment at least, in Berlin. One difference he’s noted is that the prostitutes there are more polite than in China.
For an interview with Liao about his escape, head over to the New York Review of Books blog. For a sampling of Liao’s work, go to the Paris Review back when it was edited by Philip Gourevitch and you’ll find surreal interviews that just happen to be of & about real people — talk about magical realism.
I wonder how much & in what ways Liao shaped the interviews before they appeared in print, to be honest, but every interviewer does it one way or another. (Truman Capote’s famous interviews don’t even make realistic fiction.)
The video comes courtesy of the PEN American Center & The New School in New York City. A slightly different version appears at the Pen American Center’s website.