20-09-2018 -
Research continues in Italy
10-02-2018 - 10-07-2018
Research and writing in Sicily
Extract from Bordered Lives, in the Guardian
Excerpt published by Red Pepper
Bordered Lives coming out on 18 January, 2018!
Bordered Lives: How Europe Fails Refugees and Migrants will be published on 18 January 2018. More news to come!
September - December 2016
Research in Italy
Working on new book project on life of asylum seekers and refugees in Europe
"A powerful and intelligent book" - The Independent
"Extraordinary research" - praise for Angry White People, from Andrew Marr, BBC4 Start the Week
Angry White People: Coming face-to-face with the British Far-right, is coming out soon!
See London Review Bookshop event with Owen Jones, Daniel Trilling and Ash Sarkar
隱形生產線 (Hidden Army of Labour) has been shortlisted for the Top 100 Good Books, China
Angry White People: Coming Face-to-face with the British Far-right, my new non-fiction published by Zed Books, is coming out in February 2016
隱形生產線 (A hidden army of labour) was published in Beijing, China, in July 2015.
Sex: My British Job (a Nick Broomfield film), in which I went undercover, was released on Channel 4 this month: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/sex-my-british-job
Excellent reviews:
"...沃勒斯坦永远正确的论断是:血腥残忍的剥削从来没有消失,只不过从中心国家转移到了边缘国家;而对于英国,这种空间平移甚至都没有完成,他们只是通过剥夺一部分人的公民权就地保留了血腥的剥削。" http://www.dooo.cc/article-28394-1.html
**** The Guardian : http://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2013/sep/23/sex-my-british-job-review
**** The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/reviews/last-nights-viewing--sex-my-british-job-channel-4-peter-andre-my-life-itv2-8835461.html
**** The Times:
“Powerful, devastating stuff by Hsiao-Hung Pai and her director Nick Broomfield.”
"Amid all the mediocrity on television, it is programmes like this that remind you why it can be such a powerful force for good."
There are many good questions raised by so many well-informed viewers and I’d like to try to answer them here:
- The question about context:
- It is fair that some viewers say there should be more context in the documentary explaining the hows and whys. I’d have liked to see more contextual explanation on the material circumstances that have compelled the women to migrate. I’d have liked to see an overview of the sex industry in which migrant workers make up a fourth of the workforce. I’d have liked to tell more about how internal immigration controls impact on these women’s lives. But I wasn’t the one directing the documentary and wasn’t in a position to decide how the narrative works.
- The question about the relationship between the documentary and my book Invisible: Britain’s Migrant Sex Workers:
- They are two different entities. The stories in the documentary are a small part of the book. The book consists of three parts: working life of two women, one from Poland, the other from China; and my own undercover experience in a number of workplaces across the country.
- The question about trafficking:
- This is not a documentary about trafficked women. This is about undocumented migrant women who have chosen to take up sex work in order to earn more and support their families back home.
- The question about the final confrontation with the employer Mary:
- We approached Mary because we had to give her the right to reply – for her to tell her side of the argument.
- - The question about what happens to the women that appeared in the documentary:
- - The women workers move from one workplace to the next, either every week or every two weeks. So they are not currently in the same workplace filmed in the documentary. They will carry on working in the trade until they’ve earned enough to improve life back home. They will eventually return to their home country.
- - The question about linguistic differences (my accent and whether that caused suspicion during undercover):
- - I don’t speak with a heavy southern or Taiwanese accent because I come from a family of mixed origins (my father’s from Taiwan and mother’s from northern China). It is easy for me to put on a neutral accent. The people I worked with during undercover have come from the southern province Fujian as well as the North-east region of China. As my cover story was that I came from Zhejiang, a southern province, no one was suspicious because none of them knew how to speak Zhejiang dialect or even know what a Zhejiang accent really sounds like. China is vast!
More to come…
隐形生产线 (Hidden Army of Labour), my new book in Chinese, is out now in Taiwan!
Writer and publisher Yang Du talks about 隐形生产线 (Hidden Army of Labour) and why it is very relevant to Taiwan's society and media:
My first fiction, 隐形生产线 (Hidden Army of Labour), has been published in Chinese by Homeward Publishing in Taipei: http://homewardpublish.wordpress.com/2013/09/02/%E4%B9%9D%E6%9C%88%E6%96%B0%E6%9B%B8%E3%80%8A%E9%9A%B1%E5%BD%A2%E7%94%9F%E7%94%A2%E7%B7%9A%E3%80%8B%EF%BC%9A%E6%94%B9%E7%B7%A8%E8%87%AA%E9%9D%9E%E6%B3%95%E5%8B%9E%E5%B7%A5%E7%B4%80%E5%AF%A6%E5%A0%B1/
Brilliant review by China Times, with great response from readers:
Early review of my first novel in Chinese, 隐形生产线 ( Hidden Army of Labour), to be published in Taipei on 24 August:
Scattered Sand has won the Bread and Roses Award!
Guest judge Nina Power said the title presented a “vivid, intimate and highly-engaging picture of work in contemporary China”. She added: “Pai's book evidences compassion and passion in equal measure for the workers she talks to, and presents a highly convincing, if often depressing, portrait of rural to urban migration and economic exploitation.”
For me, this is an important recognition that the voices recorded in the book need to be heard. The award is for all those who share their stories with me, for their courage and willingness to tell the world about their marginalized existence. Millions of thanks go to everyone who gave me their support in the process of writing the book - the activists, trade unionists, my editors and my dear friends!
Invisible: Britain's Migrant Sex Workers is out now!
Scattered Sand has been shortlisted for Bread and Roses Award for Radical Publishing
Many thanks to Steve Rowlatt and his colleagues for supporting Scattered Sand at UNITE's conference
Photograph: Stewart Campbell
Invisible: Britain's Migrant Sex Workers
, to be published by Westbourne Press on 15 April 2013
my first fiction, in Chinese language, temporarily titled Hidden Assembly Line,
to be published in July 2013
Scattered Sand has been named Migration Book of the Year by Migrant Rights Network: http://www.migrantsrights.org.uk/blog/2012/12/migration-books-year-heres-my-top-five-list-2012
The world is watching China during its once-in-decade leadership change. I'd like to present this to the Chinese-language readers. It is a beautiful piece of writing by a Taipei-based writer and poet, Yang Du (楊渡). He tells the story about the political activists who were imprisoned on an tiny island called Green Island, for over three decades. They had been released under huge social pressure in the 1980s. But in China today, there are still such prisoners, locked away for indefinite period of time. Yang Du writes....
「如果有機會採訪到當事人,列出三十年政治犯的名單,政府就不能抵賴了。這是關鍵。」我毫不猶豫的說:「你能介紹這樣的人嗎?」 「你有這個勇氣嗎?這是很大的禁忌。壓力可能很大,而且要保密。」徐代德先生說。
這樣的日子,他們過了三十幾年。除了他的家人還會惦念,甚至已經被台灣社會所遺忘,他們的存在,甚至被政府拒絕承認。 「當年進去的時候,還是高中剛剛畢業的年輕人,三十年在裡面,如今五、六十歲,各種病痛纏身了。像這一位,有高血壓。這一位,有慢性胃病;還有這一位,精神已經有點問題了……。」
政治犯謝秋臨的母親住在台中市三民路一帶的小巷子裡,一間低矮的平房。門前種了一些花樹,低低的屋簷,一層層木板釘起來的外牆面,細長型的屋子,只有很小的客廳,入門處正中央供著神明祖先的牌位 前有一桌子,是祭拜、餐桌兼待客之用。謝媽媽七十幾歲了,矮小的身子,謙卑的溫柔的眼神,像極了我的阿嬤。直到這時,我才驚覺三十年政治犯應該與我的父親年齡相仿,而眼前的老老的阿嬤般的人,卻是等待了、望穿了三十幾年的母親;等待了一生的眼睛,竟是如此溫柔,如此沈靜的憂傷。
報導寫成兩個部份,一份名單,條列式的寫著姓名、年齡、入獄案由、現在身體狀況。另一則報導寫著母親的心。為了怕報導被查封,我特地在打字過程中,努力保密,同時把製作好的版面,保留一份,交給當時《八十年代》的主編司馬文武,如果我們被全面查封,他們可以接力刊登。 刊登這一則報導後,雜誌因為常常遭查禁而停刊了。
1982年,綠島的夜晚,四下暗黑如墨,唯有星光明亮奔放,如同全宇宙的星星都醒來在唱歌,天空中是密密麻麻的星圖。我無法成眠,半夜在海邊散步,想到一牆之隔,便是無數青春埋骨的地方,心中抑鬱難解,除了寫詩,我不知道如何抒發心中鬱悶,於是開始寫起了《火燒島悲歌》。 因為雜誌的刊登,二十四名三十年政治犯名單公佈出來,立委再質詢,警備總部無法抵賴,它終於成為政府人權記錄的恥辱。那一年底春節前,政府開始釋放第一批政治犯。次年,陸續釋放。
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An ethnographic study of the working lives of migrant sex workers in the UK

To be published in April 2013


There are plenty of fiction about women, mostly written by men...
I want to write non-fiction about women: I want to write about their reality.
"Imaginatively she [the woman] is of the highest importance; practically she is completely insignificant.
She pervades poetry from cover to cover; She is all but absent from history."
-- Virginia Woolf

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OUT NOW...21 August 2012...by Verso Books

Scattered Sand: The Story of China's Rural Migrants

with a preface by Professor Gregor Benton


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Chinese Whispers has been short listed for the Orwell prize.

The Orwell Prize is the pre-eminent British prize for political writing. There are two annual awards: a Book Prize and a Journalism Prize. They are awarded to the book, and for the journalism, which is judged to have best achieved George Orwell’s aim to ‘make political writing into an art’. Homage to Catalonia, Down and Out in Paris and London, The Road to Wigan Pier, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Animal Farm and Orwell’s incomparable essays still resonate around the world as peerless examples of courageous independence of mind, steely analysis and beautiful writing.

The prizes are intended to encourage writing and thinking in this tradition. Clear, elegant expression, original ideas and hard argument about political issues that communicate to a wide audience are looked for. Style matters and content matters. The definition of politics is broad, and can include political and moral dilemmas, ideas and history, as well as issues in public policy, social and cultural concerns, in both fiction and non-fiction. The ambition of the prizes is to reward, celebrate and promote work that helps nurture the discussion of politics and that contributes to the quality of public life.

Find out more about the Orwell Prize.