Letter to Gui Minhai

It has been over 1,300 days since the Swedish publisher Gui Minhai was imprisoned in China. This is a letter to Gui Minhai written by his publisher colleague Eva Gedin. “You cannot hear us but we are here,” she writes. Even though this message cannot penetrate the walls that surround his prison cell in Ningbo, the words become a reminder to the world: do not forget Gui Minhai.

June 13 2019 Text: Eva Gedin Translation from Swedish: Alice E. Olsson Illustration: Amanda Åkerman

Dear Gui Minhai,

I am a fellow publisher and a friend. I want to say friend, even though we’ve never met and even though you don’t know who I am or what I look like. But I hope that, somehow, you know that I am one of many—because we are many and we are growing in numbers—who are thinking of you and doing our best to work for your release from jail, where you are being held without reasonable cause.

I can’t imagine what it’s like for you, of course. I barely dare to think about it; it frightens me. One image that I often carry in my mind is when you were brutally kidnapped for the second time. When you were on a train to Beijing and we all hoped and believed that it was the end of the nightmare. I imagine you sitting there, your heart a little lighter, perhaps, maybe with tentative hopes, then the train stopping and the plainclothes police officers storming in to seize you once more. Back to captivity.

I read your poems and my heart aches at the line “Drawing a door on the wall with my finger”. I hope so badly that that door will open and that you will finally step out into freedom.

And I hope that I will get to meet you then and that we will speak as colleagues, as publishers do, about books, about authors, about your bookshop. About how you worked as a publisher, about how you had the courage to stand up for the free word. Not just in theory but in reality.

It is brave. It is important. And it is incomprehensible that you should be imprisoned for it.

You write: “I am just an abandoned child in this beautiful world/Drawing one door after another on the walls”. And I want to call out and tell you that no, you are not abandoned, many of us stand by your side. You cannot hear us, but we are here. We will draw doors until they become real and open for you.

My warmest thoughts and wishes,
Eva Gedin

Since 2009 the Swedish publisher Eva Gedin has been the head publisher at Norstedts and is currently its managing director. She has worked in publishing since the mid-1980s and has published several of Nordstedt’s profile writers such as Agneta Pleijel. P.O. Enquist, David Lagercrantz, and Kristina Sandberg. Since 2016 she has also been Chairperson of the Swedish Publishers’ Association.

The poem which Eva Gedin quotes, is published in Swedish in Expressen. Read it here.