English Version of “Witnessing History” Hits Market with Zeal
By Jiang Rong The Epoch Times Mar 03, 2005
SYDNEY - English version of Jennifer Zeng’s memoir, Witnessing History, was published yesterday by Sydney’s largest independent publishing company, Allen & Unwin. Its first print run has been ordered by bookstores all over the country; the publishing house has begun a second printing.
Allen & Unwin purchased the copyrights to the English and other foreign language versions of Witnessing History before its Chinese version was actually published by Think Tank Publishing Corp a year ago. After more than a year of intense translation and editing, the English version of Witnessing History: One Woman's Fight for Freedom and Falun Gong appears on the market this March.
“Witnessing History is a powerful and moving account of one woman’s escape from persecution, providing a fascinating insight into life in modern-day China, and into a little understood yet widely practiced belief system,” Allen & Unwin say in a press release. “This is the first time a Chinese Falun Gong practitioner has shared their story, bearing witness to an important period of history that is still unfolding.”
Being the original publisher of Lord of the Rings, Allen & Unwin has been a prominent publisher throughout history and have been evaluated as publisher of the year several years in a row. Two years ago, when an editor of Allen & Unwin listened an interview with Ms. Zeng on Australia’s ABC broadcasting network, the editor immediately realized this book cannot be missed and immediately suggested that Allen & Unwin contact Ms. Zeng through the station. Knowing Ms. Zeng was not yet finished writing the Chinese version, so a Chinese specialist was invited to read the first three chapters of the manuscript and write an appraisal. The publishing house then decided to arrange a translation for the book into English for publication and signed the copyright for all the language versions excluding Chinese. It is extremely rare in Allen & Unwin’s history for the commissioning editor, Jo Paul, to sign a publishing contract for a book she cannot read.
After the completion of English translation, Allen & Unwin began to solicit order forms from bookstores. The warm response from various bookstores surpassed the publisher’s most optimistic estimate. The publishing house’s availability online status for Witnessing History went from “not yet published” to “reprint under consideration.” Before “reprint under consideration” was put on the Web site, the second printing had actually started.
After reading Witnessing History for the first time, Ms. Paul wrote a letter to the author that said, “The English translation is complete, and I have finally been able to read your amazing story for myself. I basically sat down last Monday morning and barely moved again until I'd finished reading. It is a truly moving, enlightening and- at times- deeply disturbing and upsetting book. Perhaps the greatest surprise, though, lay in the gentle humor that permeates your telling of at times terrible experiences. If anything, this only adds to the poignancy of the storytelling. Lovely stuff.”
Gerard Traub who has participated in the revision, said: “It was a great honor for me to participate in the revision of Witnessing History. Now, Western society and the world are paying close attention to Falun Gong increasingly, since this book provides a window to understanding modern China for English readers, academic circles and Western mainstream society.”
Witnessing History can be purchased online at Allen & Unwin's website: