China’s holdout homeowners stuck in the road

Updated 24 November 2012
0

China’s holdout homeowners stuck in the road

PICTURES OF AN ELDERLY couple’s house standing in the middle of a huge dual carriageway as they hold out for compensation to leave have gone viral on the Internet in China.
The photographs, widely carried by Chinese state media and Internet sites, show a partially demolished five-story block of flats in the center of the road in the eastern province of Zhejiang.
The phenomenon is called a “nail house” in China, as such buildings stick out and are difficult to remove, like a stubborn nail.
Luo Baogen, 67, and his 65-year-old wife have waged a four-year battle to receive more than the 260,000 yuan ($41,300) compensation offered by the local government of Daxi, the China Daily newspaper said.
“What a sight. I hope they can carry on,” said blogger Guangshen Zhuxiaozi on the popular Sina microblog service.
Another who gave the name Ha Pu Sheng said: “The common people are always disadvantaged. The method of the government is so inhumane.” Local governments in China can earn enormous revenue by evicting people to clear land and reselling it to property developers.
The road has yet to officially open, and state media carried conflicting accounts over whether Luo had finally agreed to accept an offer for his family’s home.
Daxi government officials declined to comment.
Despite their new separation from their neighbors, the couple still have electricity, running water and cable television, according to the Shanghai Daily.
Some bloggers praised the government’s restraint, saying authorities had so far refrained from a forcible eviction and knocking down the building.
“I see progress in local officials,” said Wudi De Daniupai.
There have been several previous “nail house” cases, including one in the southwestern city of Chongqing in 2007 in which the property developer excavated a deep pit around the holdout’s home.


What We Are Reading Today: ‘Less,’ by Andrew Sean Greer

Updated 28 min 53 sec ago
0

What We Are Reading Today: ‘Less,’ by Andrew Sean Greer

“Less” won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction last week and was a surprising choice because few comic novels have won the prestigious award.

The judges’ citation describes it as “a generous book, musical in its prose and expansive in its structure and range, about growing older and the essential nature of love.”

The book follows Arthur Less, a failed novelist about to turn 50.

When he receives a wedding invitation from his boyfriend of nine years ago, he decides instead to run away from his problems by attending a few half-baked literary events around the world.

He will almost fall in love in Paris, almost fall to his death in Berlin, barely escape to a Moroccan ski chalet from a Saharan sandstorm, accidentally book himself in as a writer-in-residence at a Christian retreat center in Southern India, and have a chance encounter on a desert island in the Arabian Sea.

Andrew Sean Greer began this comic masterpiece as a very serious novel about being gay and aging.

“But after a year, I just couldn’t do it,” he told The Washington Post. “It sounds strange but what I was writing about was so sad to me that I thought the only way to write about this was to make it a funny story.”