Acclaimed Chinese journalist Xinran Xue retells an inspirational story of perseverance about a mother who lived in a public restroom for 28 years, but still managed to send her two children to the top universities in China with no government assistance. "Real China is made by Chinese mothers and grandmothers, from each individual family's hard work," says Xinran.
Xinran Xue talks about her book, China Witness: Voices from a Silent Generation.
While the West has commonly viewed the last one hundred years in China through the single narrative lens of Mao's rise and rule, the experience for the Chinese themselves has been infinitely more complex. Xinran, a national celebrity and beloved figure in China who hosted a hugely popular radio show in the 1990s, traveled across China in 2005 and 2006 to gather interviews that form the true narrative of the times.
She sought out the nation's grandparents and great-grandparents, the men and women who have experienced change in the modern era firsthand, in cities and remote villages, interviewing them for the first, and perhaps the last, time.
Though many of them continue to harbor a fear of repercussions for speaking freely, they did speak with Xinran with stunning candor about their hopes, fears, and struggles, from the Long March to land reform, from Mao to marriage, from revolution to Westernization.
China Witness gives us the essence of modern China a portrait intimate, nuanced, and revelatory.
Xinran was born in Beijing in 1958 and moved to London, where she still lives, in 2007. She is the author of The Good Woman of China and Sky Burial. -- Berkeley Arts and Letters