More than 40 authors, including Jonathan Franzen, Neil Gaiman and Ian McEwan, have written an open letter to Xi Jinping, ahead of his first US state visit, expressing ‘concern about the deteriorating state of free expression in China’: The Guardian

Neil Gaiman, Ian McEwan and Jonathan Franzen have put their names to a letter calling on China’s president Xi Jinping to release the Chinese writers who “are languishing in jail for the crime of expressing their opinions”.

In an open letter to Xi, published just before the Chinese president’s first US state visit this week, more than 40 authors have come together to express their “deepest concern about the deteriorating state of free expression in China”. The letter highlights four cases of writers who are currently imprisoned in China: Uighur scholar Ilham Tohti, sentenced to life in prison “for voicing his views online about the treatment of Uighurs”, according to PEN American Center; investigative journalist Gao Yu, a 71-year-old in ill health who was sentenced to seven years in prison earlier this year; literary critic and writer Liu Xiaobo, sentenced to an 11-year term in 2009 over calls for political reform; and his wife Liu Xia, a painter, poet and photographer who has been under house arrest for nearly five years, according to PEN.

Isabel Hilton on Chinese politics and culture across three continents: The Guardian

I am ChinaIn 2010, the Chinese writer Liao Yiwu wrote an open letter to Angela Merkel, to express his deep disappointment that the Chinese authorities had prevented him from travelling to Germany to take part in a programme of literary events. In his letter, he imagines himself visiting Germany, but returning to China: “It is unimaginable,” he wrote, “that a writer would be able to do anything once he has left the place of his mother tongue.” 

A beguiling tale of love and exile offers an indictment of China’s past, and present: The Independent, UK

Xiaolu GuoXiaolu Guo has already established herself as a leading young talent today. Born in a south Chinese fishing village and now resident in Hackney, seven novels before her 40th birthday secured her a place on Granta’s list of the 20 most promising British writers last year.

If all of that was merely promise, then her new novel, I Am China feels like promise fulfilled: a book so piercingly urgent and relevant it is as if Guo has not so much published it as pressed it into your hand the very moment after writing the final sentence.

India’s foremost literary event is going from strength to strength, with thousands on hand to take in Xiaolu Guo’s remarks about the regrettable dominance of English: The Guardian

When January begins to chuck it down, and agents start to ask awkward questions about delivering the next novel, literary people long to go on pilgrimage. Or the modern equivalent of the pilgrimage, where the object of devotion uproots itself and sends itself to the far corners of the world to bask in the adoration of an unfamiliar and often bewildered audience: in short, January is when lucky literary folk take off for an international festival.

Xiaolu Guo warns that English-language mainstream has warped a broader ‘reading habit’, on panel with Jhumpa Lahiri and Jonathan Franzen: The Guardian

Xiaolu GuoAmerican literature is “massively overrated”, the award-winning author and film-maker Xiaolu Guo told the Jaipur literature festival – and fellow panellist and US novelist Jonathan Franzen – this weekend.

A session on the global novel in Jaipur on Saturday saw the Chinese/British writer Guo, one of Granta’s best of young British novelists who has also been shortlisted for the Orange prize, attack the way “our reading habit has totally been transformed by the mainstream”.

Author of A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers speaks about taking to writing in English after having earned fame as a Chinese filmmaker and writer: DNA

Guo XiaoluA Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers, published in 2007, is an extraordinary novel about a Chinese woman who comes to live in England for a year to learn English, and has an affair with an Englishman. Structured like a dictionary with chapters arranged according to the alphabet — “a” for alien, “b” for bisexual and so on — it deals with issues of alienation, loss, memory and exile — so relevant in the face of the many artists who have had to leave China because of political persecution. Large parts of the novel are written in broken English to mirror the author’s own lack of proficiency in the language, which becomes smoother and more grammatically correct towards the end.

Xiaolu Guo, the Chinese novelist and film-maker, has crossed not only continents but languages. Boyd Tonkin catches up with an intrepid traveller in Hackney: The Independent

Guo XiaoluXiaolu Guo, the prolific Chinese novelist and film-maker improbably settled in a deck-access council block in east London, is upset about a recent attempt at literary censorship. A publisher’s editor advised her to remove a pivotal chapter about an abortion from her new novel, A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers (Chatto & Windus, £12.99). An editor in Beijing? No, in New York. “It’ll become like chick-lit, and I hate that word,” she fumes. “I’m really angry and worried.”