Hong Kong stores swamped by orders for Prisoner of the State

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 May, 2009, 12:00am

Readers in Hong Kong have been scouring bookstores for copies of the explosive memoirs of the late mainland leader Zhao Ziyang .

Staff at major bookstores yesterday said they were swamped with inquiries, with some reporting having registered about 10 advanced bookings within an hour.

The book, Prisoner of the State, was prepared over four years from tapes recorded in secret by Zhao, who had lived under house arrest in Beijing for 15 years before he died four years ago.

It was originally scheduled for release worldwide - except on the mainland - next Tuesday. But some bookstores in Hong Kong broke the embargo and had sold it this week.

'It has been sold out. As far as I know, there is no stock now in any of our branches,' said a sales assistant at the Central branch of the bookstore chain Dymocks.

A sales assistant at the Causeway Bay shop of bookstore chain Page One said: 'The Chinese edition will be coming late this month, we were told. The English edition has been sold out.

'It is rare a book on political affairs is so well received. Many readers have come to ask about the book.'

Swindon Book Co also reported a good response, with staff saying they had registered 10 advanced bookings in one hour.

The memoirs of Zhao, the former party general secretary who fell from power for sympathising with the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protesters, gives behind-the-scenes details of an event the Communist Party has wanted erased from history.

New copies of another June 4-related book, People Will Not Forget, which was first released 20 years ago, will also be available at bookstores following the completion of a reprint project to mark the 20th anniversary of the bloody crackdown.

The book is a compilation of articles by 64 Hong Kong reporters.