Václav Havel is a writer and dramatist, and was one of the first spokesmen for Charter 77 and a leading figure of the Velvet Revolution of 1989. He was also the last president of Czechoslovakia (1989–92) and first president of the Czech Republic (1993–2003). His most recent book and play, respectively, are To the Castle and Back (2007) and Leaving (2007). For his literary and dramatic works, his lifelong efforts and opinions, and his position on upholding human rights, Havel is the recipient of many state decorations, international awards, and honorary doctorates.
Liao Yiwu is a poet, writer, and itinerant musician currently residing in Chengdu, Sichuan Province. After writing and publicly reciting the epic poem, “Massacre,” before dawn on June 4, 1989, and later organizing the filming of the movie An Hun, Liao was arrested in 1990 and imprisoned for four years. He received the Human Rights Watch Hellman-Hammett Grant in 1995 and 2003, and the Freedom to Write Award from the Independent Chinese PEN Center in 2007. Liao is also the author of works including The Corpse Walker: Real Life Stories: China from the Bottom Up, Zhongguo yuanan lu [Records of Chinese Injustice], Zuihou de dizhu [The Last Landlord], and Zhengci [Testimony]. His musical compositions, such as “Tiananmen muqin” [Tiananmen Mothers], “Busi de liuwangzhe” [Exiles Who Do Not Die], have been widely broadcast on the radio by June Fourth victims, and used as the main musical themes for many underground documentaries.
Liu Xia is a writer and artist born in 1961 in Beijing. She began writing poetry and fiction in 1981, took up photography in 1990, and later devoted herself to painting. She met Liu Xiaobo in 1982, and the two married in 1996. Her major works include Liu Xiaobo Liu Xia shixuan [Selected Poems of Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia] and Fang Da [Enlarged], a photography collection.
Yuet Sheung is an amateur artist based in Hong Kong.
Zhang Hongtu was born in Gansu Province. He immigrated to the United States in 1982, and has lived and worked as an artist in New York since. Many of his earlier works made use of the iconic image of Chairman Mao. In recent years, the theme of crossing national boundaries dominates Zhang’s works, such as in a rendering of a traditional Chinese painting in the unmistakable Van Gogh style and a Ming vase in the shape of a Coke bottle. Zhang’s works have been exhibited worldwide. His 2009 art work, a computer-generated image of the Great Wall, appears on the front and back covers of this issue.
Paul Frank translates from Chinese, German, French, Spanish, and Italian. He lives in a village in the Swiss Alps and can be reached at email@example.com.
Wen Huang is a Chicago-based writer and freelance journalist whose articles and translations have been published in the The Wall Street Journal Asia, the Chicago Tribune, the Paris Review, the South China Morning Post, and the Christian Science Monitor. His translations include Liao Yiwu’s The Corpse Walker: True Life Stories, China from the Bottom Up (2008, now available in paperback), and Yang Xianhui’s Woman from Shanghai: Tales of Survival from a Chinese Labor Camp (2009). Wen is a recipient of the 2007 PEN Translation Fund Grant.
J. Latourelle is a Hong Kong-based translator and writer who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.