This book was conceived during the editing of Stubborn Weeds: Chinese Literature after the Cultural Revolution (Indiana University Press, 1983), where “People or Monsters?” “Warning,” and “The Fifth Man in the Overcoat” were originally set to appear. In discussions with the Press it emerged that a writer as incisive as Liu Binyan, and as widely respected both inside and outside China, deserves a separate volume. I am grateful to the Press for supporting this idea, as well as to the Committee on Scholarly Communication with the People’s Republic of China, who sponsored the research stay in China during which I began the project. I am indebted to my colleagues who helped flesh out the volume on very short notice: to Leo Ou-fan Lee for his introduction, to Michael S. Duke for translating “Sound is Better than Silence” with astounding dispatch, and to Kyna Rubin for locating an authentic text of “Listen Carefully to the Voice of the People.” I also offer my sincere thanks to James V. Feinerman, Madelyn Ross, and John S. Rohsenow for tolerating my extensive, not to say picayune, tamperings with their draft translations.
Liu Binyan was not consulted about this book and bears no responsibility for its conception or the selection of pieces.