If I give a portrait to the Chinese public of themselves that’s not actually how I see the world and how they look to me, that’s not an honest accounting.It would be as odd as if somebody came to the United States and wrote a book about the last 100 years and said, ‘You know, I don’t want to write about the Civil Rights Movement because it’s sensitive, awkward, and uncomfortable.
The architect had proudly described it as a perfect replica of a Holiday Inn that he had seen in Palo Alto, California.
It’s exactly what you would imagine a Palo Alto Holiday Inn looks like.
If they say this doesn’t ring true, then I’ve learned something. And when they came back and said ‘Here are the cuts you have to make.
The problem is that in order to publish a book in mainland China, you have to agree to be subject to censorship. You won’t be able to talk about dissidents like Chen Guangcheng or Ai Weiwei, we don’t want you to talk about Chinese history in a certain way.’ I decided that that’s not something that I can do.
Today, the Chinese call it the “Me” generation, because that’s exactly what it is, people who are able and quite determined to think about their own lives in ways that are specific, idiosyncratic, and infused with personal choice.
They imagine themselves to be the actor at the center of this drama. It’s meaningful in all kinds of ways—politically, economically, socially.Were you surprised at by this, given the book prominently features Tiananmen and the June 4th protests, and dissidents like Chen Guangcheng, Liu Xiaobo, and Shi Tao?EO: After I had written the book in English, the question I’d been thinking about for a long time is how to get this to a Chinese audience.EO: In the end, it was the non physical transformation that became the subject of this book.It was this very private, and in some ways kind of intimate, change in the way people saw themselves as citizens, as members of the society., you wrote about trying to publish a Chinese edition of this book.