WH Allen is to publish the first book in English by Joshua Wong, the Hong Kong pro-democracy activist who led the Umbrella Revolution, described by the publisher as “a leading figurehead in the current protests”.
Hana Teraie-Wood acquired the rights directly a few months into her new role, having joined Ebury as editorial assistant in March to work in the across the freshly introduced Smart Hub. She bought world rights to Unfree Speech: The Threat to Global Democracy and Why We Must Act Now, which will be published in February 2020.
Wong is the 22-year-old student activist leading Hong Kong’s current pro-democracy protests, described by the publisher as “a leading figurehead in the current protests”. In 2011, aged 14, he founded Scholarism to campaign against the enforcement of National Education and staged the first ever successful social movement against the Chinese state in Hong Kong. He was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2018 for his role in leading the Umbrella Revolution, has served over 100 days in jail for his activism and has been named by TIME, Fortune and Forbes as one of the world’s most influential leaders. Wong has also been the subject of two documentaries, including the Netflix original documentary, "Joshua: Teenager vs Superpower".
Unfree Speech will be “a powerful and urgent manifesto for global democracy,” Ebury said .” Told through Joshua’s reflections from the frontline of activism, as well as letters written from his prison cell, Unfree Speech is Joshua’s pressing call for all of us to stand up for our democratic and human rights, wherever we live.”
The book will be translated by Jason Y Ng, the lawyer, activist, former president of PEN Hong Kong and author. Unfree Speech is Joshua’s first book in English and his first published outside of Hong Kong.
Wong said: “I am very excited at the opportunity of working with Penguin Random House and to be able to tell my story to an international audience. In many ways, my story is also the story of every Hong Konger whose freedoms are slowly being taken away under the threatening grip of Communist China. And the situation facing us is direr than ever. The recent political upheaval in Hong Kong against an unpopular extradition bill has sparked some of the largest anti-government protests since the Umbrella Movement in 2014.”
He added: “We need those in power to start listening to us, and for that to happen, pressure from the international community is critical, if not essential, as anyone who believes in democracy is implicated in this fight. I hope this book will go some way to turn up that pressure.’
Group deputy publisher Drummond Moir, who joined Ebury from Hodder in April, said ‘We’re thrilled to be publishing Joshua, an author as courageous as he is inspiring. He embodies one of things that is most important to us at Ebury: publishing voices that become movements, ones that force us to think differently about the world around us. I’m particularly thrilled that this acquisition came from one of the most recent additions to Ebury’s new smart-non-fiction hub, Hana Teraie-Wood, who joined us through the PRH Scheme in March and will publish the book brilliantly.’