Pan Mac signs memoir from Chinese social activist

Pan Macmillan has acquired rights in a memoir by the blind Chinese rights advocate and social activist, Chen Guancheng.

In a deal with US sister company Henry Holt, Pan Macmillan bought world English language rights, excluding US and Canada, in the title. Henry Holt imprint Times Books will publish in the US, simultaneously with Pan Macmillan in the UK, in March 2014.

Non-fiction publisher Jon Butler and editorial director Georgina Morley said: "Chen Guangcheng's is a remarkable story of activism and we are both proud and excited to be welcoming him to the list. We are convinced that his story will inspire people everywhere, especially those who believe in and are fighting for social justice."

The book will cover Chen's life and experiences from his childhood in rural Dongshigu village as the blind and illiterate son of a poor farmer. Despite having no formal education until he was 18 years old, he eventually became a 'barefoot lawyer', defending the poor and speaking out against the Chinese authorities. He was sentenced to four years for his activism. When he was released, he was illegally detained at home for more than 19 months, and his family members were harrassed and tortured. The book will also cover his escape from his guarded home, and the international news coverage that resulted when he sought refuge for himself, his wife and two children at the US Embassy in Beijing. Chen and his family now live in the US where is a special student at the US Asia Law Institute at the New York University School of Law.

Chen said: "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."