Kidnapped Hong Kong bookseller on IPA’s Prix Voltaire shortlist

Kidnapped Hong Kong bookseller on IPA’s Prix Voltaire shortlist

Gui Minhai, the Hong Kong-based publisher and bookseller kidnapped by Chinese agents in October 2015, and still in detention in China, features on this year’s shortlist for the International Publishers Association’s Prix Voltaire.

The award rewards “exemplary courage in upholding the freedom to publish and in enabling others to exercise their right to freedom of expression.”

Gui, a Swedish citizen, was one of five booksellers from the Mighty Current publishing house and Causeway Bookstore, taken into detention; he is the last to remain in custody. His daughter Angela Gui rallied the global book trade in support of her father at last year’s Frankfurt Book Fair.

The Prix Voltaire committee said: "Gui Minhai has spent much time contributing to the free circulation of ideas, participating in human rights conferences and sitting on the board of Independent Chinese PEN. His treatment at the hands of the Chinese authorities has had a fatal chilling effect on Hong Kong’s once vibrant and audacious publishing industry.”

From Turkey, Turhan Gunay, the longstanding editor of the Cumhuriyet Book Supplement, arrested in November last year, and still in detention on charges of belonging to terror groups, is also shortlisted. “The weekly Cumhuriyet Book Supplement has presented book reviews, and interviews with writers, introducing Turkish readers to innumerable writers and books from Europe, Latin and North America, Asia and Africa,” said the Prix Voltaire panel.

Also shortlisted is North Korean novelist Kim Jeoing-ae. "Her work with the North Korean Writers in Exile PEN Centre enables North Korean defectors who have left their homeland the freedom to express themselves through writing. An example was the establishment of the North Korean Writers in Exile PEN Literary Magazine, managed and written by NK defectors under her leadership. Kim Jeoing-Ae has faced numerous threats from North Korean agents while living in the South”, the Prix Voltaire panel said.

London-based Iranian e-pulisher Azadeh Parsapour, whose venture Noqaam Publishing uses crowdfunding to publish on subjects that are taboo in Iran; and Burmese publisher and writer Moe Way whose Myanmar publishing house The Eras “tries to push the boundaries of what can appear in print”, are the remaining shortlistees.

The shortlist was chosen by a nine-strong body of publishing professionals from Argentina, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Thailand, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

The Prix Voltaire winner will be announced at the Gothenberg Book Fair in Sweden on 29th September, receiving a CHF 10,000 (£8,115) prize.

Last year the award was given to jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi.

The sponsors of the Prix Voltaire this year include Holtzbrinck Publishing Group, Verlagsgruppe Random House, the German trade body Borsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, three Norwegian publishers including Aschehoug, and a number from Sweden, including Storytel.