Chinese writer Fang Fang
Chinese writer Fang Fang
AFP

After Wuhan was sealed off from the world, acclaimed Chinese writer Fang Fang started an online diary about the coronavirus tragedy unfolding in her hometown.

Her journal drew tens of millions of readers -- but now that it is about to be published abroad in several languages, she is facing a nationalist backlash at home.

Critics say the 64-year-old, who was awarded China's most prestigious literary prize in 2010, is providing fodder to countries that have slammed Beijing's handling of the pandemic.

Fang began to document life in Wuhan, the city of 11 million where COVID-19 first emerged in December, after it was placed under an unprecedented lockdown on January 23.

As authorities desperately scrambled to stop the disease from spreading across the country, she wrote about the fears, anger and hope of the industrial hub's residents in isolation.

In one entry she mentioned seeing pictures of the city's empty East Lake, and the "deserted and peaceful expanse of the water".

She described residents helping each other, and the simple pleasure of the sun lighting up her room.

But she also touched on politically sensitive topics such as overcrowded hospitals turning away patients, mask shortages and relatives' deaths.

In an interview posted on the website of Chinese weekly Caixin, the author said she had received death threats and that her home address was posted online.

(To download our E-paper please click here. The publishers permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Free Press Journal

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