God Is Red
The Secret Story of How Christianity Survived and Flourished in Communist China
By Liao Yiwu
(HarperOne, Hardcover, 9780062078469, 256pp.)
Publication Date: September 2011
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
When journalist Liao Yiwu first stumbled upon a vibrant Christian community in the officially secular China, he knew little about Christianity. In fact, he'd been taught that religion was evil, and that those who believed in it were deluded, cultists, or imperialist spies. But as a writer whose work has been banned in China and has even landed him in jail, Liao felt a kinship with Chinese Christians in their unwavering commitment to the freedom of expression and to finding meaning in a tumultuous society.
Unwilling to let his nation lose memory of its past or deny its present, Liao set out to document the untold stories of brave believers whose totalitarian government could not break their faith in God, including:
- The over-100-year-old nun who persevered in spite of beatings, famine, and decades of physical labor, and still fights for the rightful return of church land seized by the government
- The surgeon who gave up a lucrative Communist hospital administrator position to treat villagers for free in the remote, mountainous regions of southwestern China
- The Protestant minister, now memorialized in London's Westminster Abbey, who was executed during the Cultural Revolution as "an incorrigible counterrevolutionary"
This ultimately triumphant tale of a vibrant church thriving against all odds serves as both a powerful conversation about politics and spirituality and a moving tribute to China's valiant shepherds of faith, who prove that a totalitarian government cannot control what is in people's hearts.
Liao Yiwu is a critic of the Chinese regime, for which he has been imprisoned and his works have been banned. He is the author of The Corpse Walker: Real Life Stories, China from the Bottom Up and a forthcoming memoir. In 2011, Liao dramatically escaped from China and now splits his time between the United States and Germany.
Wenguang Huang is a writer, journalist, and translator whose articles and translations have appeared in The Wall Street Journal Asia, Chicago Tribune, and The Paris Review. He is also the author of The Little Red Guard: A Family Memoir.
“Liao’s coverage of Christians allows truth to shine in the darkness. That’s the beauty of his writings.”
-Liu Xiaobo, 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner
“There is the authorized version of life in China propagated by the Communist Party, and then there is the unauthorized version. Liao Yiwu is one of the foremost authors of the latter, for which he has paid a steep price.”
-Wall Street Journal
“God Is Red is the most wonderfully surprising report on the church in China I’ve seen, and Liao Yiwu is the best literary guide since Vergil.”
-John Wilson, Editor, Books & Culture
“A subtle and sober account by one of the foremost banned writers of contemporary China. An irresistible read, pulsating with humanity.”
-Lian Xi, author of Redeemed by Fire: The Rise of Popular Christianity in Modern China
“It is very difficult to read Liao Yiwu’s work without being constantly reminded of Christian struggles in the ancient Roman Empire. . . . Who can tell how the story will play out this time round?”
-Philip Jenkins, author of Jesus Wars
“Beginning with a 100-year-old nun and ending with a recovering slacker, . . . the voices of individual believers are lively and immediate. . . . Though Liao’s subjects claim to have no interest in politics, the question of political change in China is the subtext .”
-Wall Street Journal
“This is a mesmerizing and amazing tale of courage. Author Liao Yiwu’s story, covering even the recent past, is especially powerful because he is not himself a Christian. The reporting is brilliant and the perspective dazzling.”
-David Aikman, author of Jesus in Beijing
“The author, himself an object of intermittent government harassment, is a deft interviewer. Not a believer himself, Liao empathizes with the Christians he encounters. These portraits of faithful Christians are beautifully drawn, neither triumphalist nor maudlin. Suffering, but also resilience and hope, are the common lot of these believers.”
-Daniel Bays, author of Christianity in China
“The heartbreaking tales of persecution and spiritual fervor speak for themselves.”
“No writer does better than Liao Yiwu in revealing the texture of daily life for ordinary people in China. His characters walk off the page and into your heart. . . . Humanity oozes from every vignette, and every detail rings true.”
-Perry Link, Professor emeritus, East Asian Studies, Princeton University
“A leading Chinese writer [provides] an insider’s look at the surging interest in Christianity within the world’s most populous nation . . . a journalistic chronicle of how Christians survived the repressive Mao era as well as a glimpse into why their numbers are rising.”
-Christian Science Monitor
“Every so often, you come across a narrative of courage under suffering that is so well reported, so restrained and sensitive in its intelligence, that you are momentarily altered by the experience. . . . God Is Red is a powerful account of Chinese Christians’ perseverance.”
“If you want to read one book that sums up the glory of the Christian witness under persecution and the tragic 20th-century story of China’s Christians, read God Is Red. Brilliant and immensely moving, it will, if anything can, inject new backbone into your own Christian life.”
“It is a story of faith and determination in the midst of poverty and persecution. … A book like this will open your eyes to the amazing freedom and blessings we enjoy in this country. It should bring into focus what really matters.”
“There are incredible tales of perseverance during times of intense persecution. . . . In these interviews, a picture of the resilience and elasticity of Christianity in China emerges, and it becomes clear that Christianity remains a powerful force for the poor in China.”
-Los Angeles Review of Books
“God Is Red offers a deeply impressive series of vignettes of the Christian experience [in China], including unforgettable stories of individuals’ courage in the face of excruciating suffering. The book is at once heartbreaking and profoundly stirring.”