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A Stone is Most Precious Where It Belongs

Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9780349015958

Price: £20

ON SALE: 21st February 2023

Genre: Biography & True Stories / Memoirs

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‘This gripping memoir conveys the courage and cost of telling a truer story’ GUARDIAN BOOK OF THE DAY

‘A memoir of an extraordinary life, which takes in the past 50 years of Xinjiang’s history … fascinating’ THE TIMES


A powerful and urgent memoir by Uyghur activist Gulchehra Hoja – a remarkable woman who went from being a beloved star on Chinese children’s TV to a journalist whose reporting on the oppression of her people led to her entire extended family being imprisoned.

In 2018, twenty-four members of Gulchehra Hoja’s family, including her elderly parents, were arrested by the Chinese state. Gulchehra had been forced to leave her family behind when she fled to a new life in the United States, and the arrests were an act of retaliation against her investigations for Radio Free Asia into the plight of the Uyghur people.

For the Uyghurs, this kind of oppression is not unusual. In her stunning memoir, Gulchehra shares her story: an account of life under Chinese rule in East Turkestan, and her journey to becoming a spokesperson against genocide.

The grandchild of a musician and the daughter of an archaeologist, Gulchehra grew up with Uyghur culture and history running through her veins. She showed her gifts early on as a dancer, actress and storyteller, and she became a major television star. But she began to understand what China was doing to her people, as well as her own complicity as a journalist. As her growing fame and political awakening coincided, she made it her mission to expose the crimes Beijing is committing against its own citizens.

Filled with the beauty of East Turkestan and its people, A Stone is Most Precious Where it Belongs is the story of a woman who has been willing to risk her own life to expose the truth.

‘Essential reading’ FINANCIAL TIMES

‘A deeply moving page turner’ MICHAEL PORTILLO

‘Pulses with energy and beauty, making us care about what is being erased at mass scale by telling a deeply personal tale’ SUNDAY TELEGRAPH


This harrowing account helped me understand better what Uyghurs face under China's repressive regime - and how easy it is to forget those who have disappeared into silence ... essential reading
Financial Times
This revelatory memoir pulses with energy and beauty, making us care about what is being erased at mass scale by telling a deeply personal tale ... Her account is not just timely but timeless ... Hoja is a brave woman. The particulars of her story speak for the losses of a people
Sunday Telegraph
In this moving, deeply personal account of a family's collective anguish, Hoja, a reporter for Radio Free Asia, re-creates in intimate detail her life story within the tight Uyghur community and their ultimate persecution and imprisonment... we are lucky to have this important historical record of what she - and so many others - endured. A heartfelt, accessible story of a determined warrior for her oppressed people
Kirkus Reviews
A Stone Is Most Precious Where It Belongs is a brave and brilliant book. It is a window into topics ranging from efforts to maintain Uyghur culture in the face of suffocating propaganda in Chinese state media through to the opportunities and agonies of exile. But most gripping is Gulchehra Hoja's willingness to share not just her story but herself - humour and humility, pain and love and faith
Sophie Richardson, China Director at Human Rights Watch
Gulchehra's story, and her work to shed light on the Chinese Communist Party's genocide of the Uyghurs, has been carried out at a high price. This book offers a valuable look at the experiences that led to her dedicated journalism, and her fight to preserve and live out Uyghur culture
Nury Turkel, author of No Escape: The True Story of China’s Genocide of the Uyghurs
We said "never again" after millions of Jews were killed in the Holocaust, but here we are in 2023 and another genocide is taking place in front of our eyes. Gulchehra Hoja bravely exposes this new holocaust perpetrated by the Chinese communist party in her brilliantly written book, A Stone is Most Precious Where it Belongs. Her story is one of immense sacrifice to expose the truth. As a reporter for Radio Free Asia, Ms Hoja was one of the first people to expose the Uyghur concentration camps in Xinjiang and as a result, her entire extended family were rounded up and imprisoned on those same camps. The suffering of the Uyghur people that she documents is a must read. We owe Gulchehra Hoja an enormous debt of gratitude to bear witness and share this horrifying story
Bill Browder, author of Red Notice
To grasp the Uyghur experience, one must also understand life outside the camps. A textured story of how Uyghurs tried to survive and subvert Chinese cruelty ... [Hoja's] truth-telling comes at an extortionate price
The Economist
Gulchehra Hoja has given the world that rarest of treasures: a true account that magnificently tells the story of a whole people - the Uyghur nation - while simultaneously telling the most personal and powerful chronicle of one heroic woman's life. Readers will not be able to put down this beautifully written chronicle of Gulchehra's devotion to her family, her people, her faith and to her conscience. She has faced excruciating choices but through it all, her virtue and valour shine through like a beacon of light. This book will make each reader want to live a life of greater purpose
Dr Katrina Lantos Swett, President of the Lantos Foundation, past Chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom
This gripping memoir conveys the courage and cost of telling a truer story
Rachel Aspden, Guardian Book of the Day
A deeply moving page turner
Michael Portillo
On one level this immensely significant book is a memoir of a journalist overcoming tremendous odds and making unimaginable sacrifices to tell the truth. On another it tells the terrible story of the cultural genocide of the Uyghur people at the hands of the Chinese government. I found this heart-rending book impossible to put down and hope it finds the global audience it deserves
Peter Oborne
A memoir of an extraordinary life, which takes in the past 50 years of Xinjiang's history. A Stone Is Most Precious Where It Belongs makes this fascinating history more accessible than ever before. This story is normally told with statistics, but she illuminates it with the all-important details: the tall poplar trees in rural villages; the fuzzy family TV set; the bright green fields stretching out beyond the city where she grew up
John Phipps, The Times