14-02-2014
Working on a non-fiction, We the Outsiders: Coming Face-to-face with the British Far Right
The book is based on life stories of individuals who were/are active on the far right. Darren is one of the central characters. Here's a taste of his story.
26-09-2013
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…
04-09-2013
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:
http://www.chinatimes.com/newspapers/%E6%A5%8A%E6%B8%A1%E5%8F%A6%E4%B8%80%E7%A8%AE%E5%87%9D%E8%A6%96%EF%BC%8D%E8%AE%93%E5%BA%95%E5%B1%A4%E7%9A%84%E7%94%9F%E5%91%BD%EF%BC%8C%E7%AB%99%E8%B5%B7%E4%BE%86%E8%AA%AA%E8%A9%B1-20130904000523-260109
03-09-2013
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:
http://www.chinatimes.com/newspapers/%E7%99%BD%E6%9B%89%E7%B4%85%E8%87%A5%E5%BA%95%E8%8B%B1%E5%9C%8B-20130831000937-260115
19-08-2013
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:
http://pots.tw/node/11777
13-05-2013
Scattered Sand has won the Bread and Roses Award!
http://breadandrosesprize.wordpress.com/2013/05/12/hsiao-hung-pai-wins-the-bread-roses-award-2013/
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!
15-04-2013
Invisible: Britain's Migrant Sex Workers is out now!
11-03-2013
Scattered Sand has been shortlisted for Bread and Roses Award for Radical Publishing
06-02-2013
Many thanks to Steve Rowlatt and his colleagues for supporting Scattered Sand at UNITE's conference
Photograph: Stewart Campbell
13-1-2013
Invisible: Britain's Migrant Sex Workers
, to be published by Westbourne Press on 15 April 2013
17-12-2012
CURRENTLY WORKING ON:
my first fiction, in Chinese language, temporarily titled Hidden Assembly Line,
to be published in July 2013
10-12-2012
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
10-11-2012
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....
《火燒島悲歌》
──謹以此文獻給遠行的林書揚先生
1,被遺忘的人
「你來看看這一則新聞!」1982年初夏,徐代德先生拿著中國時報,指著一則小方塊,坐在我的前方。我點了一杯曼特寧,他常常點紅茶。
「這是兩天前的消息,我看到了。」我說:「三十年政治犯,老天,這是真的嗎?關三十幾年,進去二十歲,出來都五十幾歲。這太殘酷了!」
短短約三百字的新聞,報導立法委員洪昭男與蘇秋鎮質詢:二二八事件過了三十幾年了,為什麼現在還有一群政治犯,被關在牢裡,就算是無期徒刑,也該假釋了,為什麼還不釋放他們?警備總部的回答是:中華民國沒有這樣的政治犯,絕無此事。
「你相信這是真的嗎?」徐代德先生問。
「政府雖然否認了,可是我半信半疑。因為關三十幾年,太不人道了。這政府總不至於這樣無法無天吧?」我直率的說。
「就我所知,這是真的。」徐代德先生注視著我說:「如果有機會報導,有人可以採訪,你要不要試試看?」他用客家人口音,一字一句的說。
徐代德先生有一頭厚厚的假髮。因為腦瘤開過刀,他的頭上有一道頗大的傷口,所以他不是戴著假髮,就是戴著帽子,年紀大約五十幾歲,農家子弟出身的他,個性非常敦厚,臉色常常掛著溫柔的微笑。
一九八二年開始,我任職於《大地生活》雜誌,透過主編汪立峽的介紹,我相繼認識「老政治犯」這個群體。徐代德是其中之一,當年入獄時才高中畢業,參加了讀書會,被舉發入獄。入獄後反而讀了更多的書,把日文修得更為深入,出獄後,便靠翻譯為生。後來娶妻生子,妻子很是賢慧,在新莊開一間幼稚園,於是他專心翻譯寫作,兼著當園長。剛剛大學畢業的我只知道政治犯是一群被壓抑的群體,熱心民主運動,出錢出力,犧牲奉獻。徐代德先生就是這樣的人,為我們寫稿不拿稿費,帶我們讀書分析問題,還常常找我去他家吃飯,鼓勵年輕人上進。
「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。
「我不會怕,我會很小心,保守秘密,不會傷害到什麼人。但是,要能找到這樣的人。」我說。
「好。有一個關了很久的政治犯,非常了解裡面的情況。讓他來告訴你吧。」他隨即說:「他們被陷害過,非常小心謹慎,不輕易和人接觸。我先去問一問,他如果答應,我再來通知你。」
2,老母親的眼睛
五天後,徐代德先生不曾預期的來找我,為了避免辦公室被竊聽,我們去外面的咖啡館。他給了我一個電話,說:「這個盧先生,在火燒島關了二十四年,長期關在一起,他了解每一個三十年政治犯的情況。你去找他談。連絡辦法是先打公共電話,見面再談。」幾天後,我在盧兆麟先生的辦公室見到了他。
那是一家頗為知名的民間企業,他擔任財務方面的工作。他並未和我出去外面的咖啡館,而是在辦公室外的會客大堂裡。空空蕩蕩的空間,寬寬大大的沙發,我看他抬頭望去的眼神,沈靜而機警,猜想他應該是為了可以望見四方有沒有人走動,以避免被監聽吧。
雖然談的是如此敏感機密的事,盧兆麟先生並不激動,他沈靜淡然,喁喁細談,有如說著平常的事:「現在先給你看一下名單,等一下再請你問問題。這一位是關最久的林書揚,他是麻豆案進去的……。」他指著名字,一個一個說下去。
空蕩蕩的企業總部會客大堂裡,頓時空氣凝結,午後的陽光,穿透落地大玻璃窗和深灰色的窗帘,像劍一般刺進來。時間流動,拉回三十多年前,大逮捕的年代,讀書會的青年,理想主義的青春,一個一個被逮捕,被禁錮,被涷結,在一個遙遠的燃燒的小島上。
我曾聽作家楊逵說過,當年剛剛關進火燒島的時候,它是一個開放的空間,只有少數的居民、綠色的野生植物,以及環繞四邊的海洋。後來當局要他們像苦力一樣的四處開鑿石塊,搬回來,再用這石頭蓋起來,一日一日,圍起監獄的圍牆,最後,把自己關在裡面。
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……。」
會客大堂太大?冷氣太強?夏日的午後太遙遠了?還是故事太冷血了?我只感覺全身寒冷。
「那麼,有沒有什麼人的家屬,他們還在等待,等待孩子回來。我可以去採訪,我想,應該要寫一寫家屬的心情吧。」我說。
「那麼,你得等我一下,等我連繫好了,再通知你。他們會怕。怕是有人再去陷害他們。」
「已經那麼悲慘了,還能怎麼去陷害?」我有點訝異。
「五○年代那時候,有些情治人員或者騙子,騙他們說可以幫忙脫罪,騙了家屬許多錢,有些家庭為了孩子,賣地賣房,傾家蕩產,最後都沒用。他們怕到骨子裡了……。」這悲哀至極的事,盧兆麟先生以淡淡的口氣說出來,讓我更為驚心動魄。
「我先去打一聲招呼吧。」他說。
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。
她並不特別怨嘆,只是悠悠的說,當年那孩子從小愛讀書,讀了台中一中(我的母校),像很多孩子一樣,喜歡打野球,就參加了野球隊。有一天參加野球隊的活動,不知道為什麼,就和其它的幾個隊員一起被抓了。後來聽說是因為參加讀書會,但也不知道真正的原因。老母親拿著他年輕時候的照片,一個戴著帽子的高中生,微笑的面容,青春無畏的眼睛異常清澈的望著前方,彷彿天地都會被照亮。然而再沒現在的照片了。他的生命停留在歷史的一瞬,未曾歸來。
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。
3,《火燒島悲歌》
但我一直忘不了那一條悠悠長長的小巷,以及在那巷子裡等待的母親的眼睛。那一年夏天,我去了一趟綠島。雖然明知無法探望到任何一個政治犯,但站在這個禁錮之島,站在監獄高高的圍牆邊,站在那遙遠的海洋之前,我遙遙想望當年的年輕生命,如何用青春身軀,望著海洋,在炎炎的岩石上敲打,開鑿石塊,最後把自己禁錮起來。直到三十幾年過去了……。
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。
第一批政治犯釋放後,老同學為他們舉行一次小小的聚會。徐代德先生特地找我去參加。在三重的老同學家中,我終於見到了那一位母親等待了一生的謝秋臨,和其它的政治犯。我握著他的手,不敢相信這竟能成真。「你媽媽,身體都好?」
「很好,很好。回來了,她就放心了。」謝秋臨先生說。
他們喁喁而談,低聲笑語,即使遙隔幾十年,依然像是老同學的「同學會」。
徐代德拉著我到一角,很開心的說:「他們說要謝謝你的報導……。」
「啊,不,要謝謝你才對。我們才要謝謝你們為台灣所奉獻的一生啊……。」
4,生命的導師
所有人都陸續釋放以後,只有兩個人未放:林書揚和李金木。老同學告訴我,李金木已經精神失常了,社會還注意著的時候,放出來會讓當局很難堪;林書揚是政治犯的領袖,思想深刻,理論造詣深厚,不敢放他出來。
相反的理由,同樣的關著。這是何等的反諷!
在老政治犯的奔走和國際人權組織繼續「關注」下,他們終於在一九八四年釋放了。林書揚被關了三十四年又七個月,他可能是歷史上關最長的犯人吧。
首度在士林見到他的時候,我凝視著他的眼睛,好像被綠島的海洋洗得太久一般,透明,乾淨,澄澈。時光只在他的面容留下痕跡,卻讓他的眼睛有一種堅毅的沈靜。安靜而狹窄的屋子裡,還空空蕩蕩,只有一些帶回來的書籍,和朋友送的書,放在桌上。他沈靜如一個思想家,坐在翻開的書前面,站起身,沖杯茶,回來了,微笑著說:「生命總是要碰上許多磨練,把它當然磨練,當成革命的鍛鍊,總是體驗著人生的過程,不斷的讀書,追求思想的進步,這樣的渡過了……。」
三十四年的光陰,青春到白首的歲月,彷彿只是一瞬,他依然是那個追求知識的學生,只是從學校到了牢房,牢房回到社會,作伴的,依然是書,是知識的追尋。
他說,自己在獄中,總是問自己,「生命啊,應該是怎樣的一種活法」,來逼問自己,讓自己一刻也不敢鬆懈。「因為,人的一生如果不能追求精神的提昇,為追尋的理想奉獻,而只是追求物質的慾望,那和動物有什麼不同?那樣的活法,怎能算真正的活過?但如果可以為理想而獻身,即使犧牲了生命,甚至在獄中一輩子,才算是真正的活過。」
在他的身上,我終於見到一種「活法」,一種生命的典範。為了革命的理念,為了生命的理想,他可以坐牢半生,無怨無悔。出獄後的他讀書寫作,參與社會運動,彷彿傳教的先知,帶著一代又一代的年輕人,一起讀書,一起討論最難懂的《資本論》,也帶著年輕人一起翻譯編寫日據時期《台灣社會運動史》,那浩繁的長卷。
一九八○年代末,社會運動風起雲湧的年代,工黨成立,後分裂而有勞動黨。林書揚參與了勞動黨的組黨工作。有一天,他把我找去士林的住處,安靜坐下,溫和的說:「慶黎讓我找你談談。」
「啊?有事需要我幫忙嗎?」我說。蘇慶黎和我相當熟,我常常幫她寫稿。
「她認為你不僅能寫作,還有很強的行動力,又比較能結合年輕的朋友,和各方面都可以相處,現在那邊有需要,所以讓我來勸你,擔任一項重要的工作。他們是認為,你比較信任我,別人不一定可以說動你,但你會聽我的。」他兀自笑著說。
「啊,其實慶黎也可以自己說。」我忍不住笑起來。朋友都知道,我視他如「思想的導師」,一個生命都奉獻出去的理想主義者,他有任何需要,赴湯蹈火,我都會去做,難怪慶黎要他出面。
他微笑著說:「好了,他們要我說的,我現在算說過了。要不要做,由你自己來決定。」
「現在我說一說我個人的想法。」他繼續說:「你最主要的能力,還是在寫作,你的志趣也在文化,你如果在媒體工作,可以發揮更大的社會影響力,也比較能夠為窮苦弱勢的人說話。現在的媒體,為弱小者說話的地方太少了。我認為你還是要在文化界工作,比較能夠發揮作用。那邊的事,還是讓他們自己去做吧。他們要我說的,我都說了。但你還是做你自己該做的吧。」
我默默的點點頭。能夠這樣了解我的性情志趣,考慮周詳,真誠待人,我只能說,他不僅是「思想的導師」,更是「生命的導師」。
他依舊維持著讀書和寫作,陸續出版了有關二二八、白色恐怖、冷戰體制分析等的書,繼續用那純真的熱情,陪著一代又一代的年輕人,一起閱讀,一起成長,繼續傳揚他的理想主義,直到最後。
直到最後,我都未曾想像過他會離去。彷彿生命的導師一定會陪你一生,如此理所當然。直到十月十二日那天,知道他過世的那個夜晚,才第一次感受到真正的失去,而他所代表的那一代人,那種理想主義者的純粹、真誠,和把生命奉獻給受苦者的熱血,竟漸漸凋零了。那憂傷,是無聲的看著暮色,那樣明亮鮮紅,那樣燦爛煇煌,卻將要逐漸轉入於虛空的憂傷啊……。
夜深時,我彷彿看見他剛剛從監獄出來的時候,中年的風霜的臉上,安安靜靜,坐在書桌前,支額沈思,用一雙微笑的眼睛,叩問著:「生命啊,應該是怎麼樣的一種活法?」
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
COMING SOON:

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

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

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

Scattered Sand: The Story of China's Rural Migrants

with a preface by Professor Gregor Benton

 

* * * * * *

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.