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News: Macmillan Site

Times Books acquires memoir by Chen Guangcheng

Chen Guangcheng, the blind rights activist and self-taught legal advocate who made worldwide news last April as he sought to study in the United States after years of imprisonment and illegal detention by the Chinese government, has signed with Times Books, an imprint of Henry Holt and Company, for a memoir, it was announced today by Stephen Rubin, Holt’s president. John Sterling, editor at large for Henry Holt, acquired and will edit the book. Chen is known world over for his outspoken views against the Chinese authorities’ disregard for the rule of law. 

The book, which Times Books expects to publish in Fall 2013, will cover Chen’s life and experiences beginning with his youth in rural Dongshigu village as the blind and illiterate son of a poor farmer. He had no formal education until he was eighteen years old; eventually he became a “barefoot lawyer” and used what he learned to defend the poor and speak out against the Chinese authorities. After bringing a class-action suit related to family planning abuses, he was sentenced to more than four years in prison for his activism. When released, he was illegally detained at home for more than nineteen months, during which time he and his family members were incessantly harassed and tortured. The book will also cover his dramatic escape from his heavily guarded home and the global news coverage that resulted when he sought refuge for himself, his wife and their two children at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. Chen and his family now live in the United States where he is a special student at the U.S.-Asia Law Institute at the New York University School of Law. 

“I am delighted to work with Times Books to publish my memoir,” Chen stated. “This is an opportunity for me to share with the world the true conditions in China, especially in the vast stretches of rural China. I hope the book we produce together will help usher in a new era of passion for life, active engagement with all challenges, and confidence that we can overcome all difficulties.”

“Chen’s story is a remarkable journey of activism on both a personal and political level,” said Sterling. “Readers around the world will be astounded by his life; he grew up with challenges many people can only imagine, yet he rose to become a courageous fighter for the rights of thousands of poor Chinese men and women. His story will inspire people everywhere, especially those who believe in and are fighting for social justice.”

Chen was born on November 12, 1971, in Shandong Province in China. A high fever left him blind in infancy. He grew up in great poverty and to enrich his life he created his “own world of experiences” from what he learned in nature. A self-taught barefoot lawyer, he hoped to defend himself and to help others fight for civil rights in the China most of the world does not see: the impoverished villages outside of the huge modern cities. He has been politically active for more than twenty years and in that time has spoken out against and fought the government on many of their policies, especially those regarding the implementation of constitutional rule and rule of law. After bringing a lawsuit directed at abuse related to China’s punitive one-child policy – which often resulted in forced abortions and sterilization – he was arrested on trumped-up charges. After a trial, during which he was denied access to his legal counsel, he was convicted and sentenced to jail in 2006. Immediately after being released in September 2010, he was again placed under illegal detention. He escaped in April 2012 and made his way to Beijing where he sought refuge and asked for the protection of his family. His escape shone an international media spotlight on his cause and also created tension between the United States and China. Ultimately he was granted permission by the Chinese government to leave for his studies abroad.

Times Books acquired world rights to Chen’s memoir from Robert Barnett of Williams & Connolly, LLP.

About Macmillan  

Macmillan is a global publisher of books, magazines, textbooks, scientific information, and digital content and services. In the United States, the group includes Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Henry Holt and Company; St. Martin’s Press; Tor Books; Picador; Macmillan Audio; Bedford St. Martin’s; W. H. Freeman; Worth Publishers; i-clicker; Hayden-McNeil; Palgrave Macmillan; and Scientific American magazine. 

Macmillan is a subsidiary of Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck, GMbH, a global media company based in Stuttgart, Germany.


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