“To write a book about China that most Chinese cannot read is to accept defeat.”
Support Mei’s effort to get “One Child” out in Chinese by donating through Patreon, or for just $3 buy your own copy of the uncensored Chinese version using one of the “buy” buttons below!
My book, “One Child,” on China’s one-child policy was published this year. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) It was a timely debut, coming out just as China announced a switch to a two-child policy. “One Child” was also critically acclaimed, the culmination of many years work, including a decade’s experience as a Pulitzer-prize winning China correspondent for the Wall Street Journal.
Unfortunately, the people most affected by the policy are not able to read it.
Thanks to tightening censorship in China, I am unable to get a mainland Chinese publisher. Previously, books on “banned” topics in China used to find their way to mainland readers through Hong Kong or Taiwan, but the chill on publishing has extended even beyond China as Beijing’s influence grows.
Recently, in a twist worthy of Kafka, several booksellers in Hong Kong who dared print unflattering stories on China’s leaders mysteriously disappeared, only to appear on mainland China making televised confessions to a host of alleged crimes.
Needless to say, this has created a climate of fear among writers and publishers to produce anything remotely critical of Beijing.
To write a book about China that most Chinese cannot read is to accept defeat.
I have interviewed many Chinese people for this book — from academics to officials to everyday folk. They spoke honestly, and at some risk to themselves, about how the one-child policy shaped their lives. Their observations and experiences deserve to be part of the conversation about China’s past and future. I was not willing to have their voices silenced.
Therefore, I have created a Chinese version of my book, and am releasing a free download of it aimed at mainland Chinese readers. I will also have versions in simplified and traditional Chinese available for sale via electronic download or print-on-demand, for folks outside the great Firewall.
All this has taken a significant amount of resources: I have had to pay for a translation out of my own pocket. Even finding a translator was no an easy task. One candidate bowed out for fear of political retribution. My current translator has asked to remain anonymous.
I’ve also had to turn myself into a mini-publisher, learning about file formatting, marketing, cover design, copyright issues, rights management—all for a book which I am, for the most part, giving away free.
I am turning to you to help me cover the costs of this highly unorthodox approach to publishing.
There is a risk. I expect authorities in China will try to shut-down or remove digital copies of my book as it appears in Chinese cyberspace, but hopefully not before it has had a chance to be widely disseminated.
If you help me succeed in this venture, it will inspire others to scale the Great Firewall. It might also encourage other writers whose works have been repressed by authoritarian regimes to consider new ways of reaching their audiences.
It will be a nod to human ingenuity, journalism and truth-telling. Most of all, it is a gesture of hope that the freedom of ideas will prevail.
Thank you–Mei Fong
“A searing, important, and eminently readable exploration of China’s one-child policy.”
— NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF, NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS
“Not to be missed … [Fong] combines tough, broad economic analysis with individual stories.”
— ECONOMIST / 1843
“A timely, important work that takes stock of the one-child policy’s damage…ONE CHILD is, like the policy’s abolition, long overdue, and Ms. Fong was the perfect person to write it.”
— WALL STREET JOURNAL