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Book News: Was Hong Kong Publisher's 10-Year Sentence Political Payback?

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

  • A Chinese court has sentenced Hong Kong publisher Yiu Mantin to 10 years in prison for smuggling chemicals. But family members say that isn't the real reason behind Wednesday's sentence. Yiu had planned to publish a book by dissident writer Yu Jie that was critical of Chinese President Xi Jinping, and his family says that the book is what drew the regime's ire. Yiu's son, Edmond Yiu Yung-chin, told The South China Morning Postthat the verdict was intended to keep his father from publishing more"subversive" literature. The New York Times reports: "The police in Shenzhen, the southern Chinese city adjacent to Hong Kong, detained Mr. Yiu after he crossed the border last November and alleged that he had made trips to smuggle deceptively labeled chemicals to avoid taxes and duties. Ding Xikui, a lawyer for Mr. Yiu, said his client had acknowledged some wrongdoing, but Mr. Ding and another defense lawyer had argued at the trial in March for a light sentence, claiming Mr. Yiu was not the main culprit."
  • Amazon is delaying the shipment of Hachette books for periods of several weeks "for reasons of their own," a spokeswoman from the publishing company told theTimes.In the past, Amazon has removed the "Buy" buttons on books from certain publishers following disputes or as a negotiation tactic. The newspaper's report says an Amazon spokesman declined to comment.
  • NPR's Alan Cheuse talks to Jordan Foster at about the process of writing fiction: "I think fiction writers write what they do because no one else has written it and they want to read it."
  • At The New Yorker,Rebecca Mead writes about motherhood and George Eliot: "As Eliot's fiction reveals, both in its stories and in her overarching ethical project, mothers have no monopoly on love and selflessness, on empathy and care, even if it might take motherhood for some of us to discover what the greatest novelists already know."
  • Oyster, the Netflix-like e-book subscription service, has partnered with 500 new publishers and added more than 500,000 new books, Publishers Weeklyreports. The publishers include Wiley, Grove Atlantic and McSweeney's. For $9.99 a month, Oyster users can read an unlimited number of e-books.
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    Annalisa Quinn is a contributing writer, reporter, and literary critic for NPR. She created NPR's Book News column and covers literature and culture for NPR.
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