Voices from a Silent Generation
(Pantheon, Hardcover, 9780375425479, 448pp.)
Publication Date: February 24, 2009
List Price: $28.95*
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China Witness is an extraordinary work of oral history that illuminates the diverse ways in which the Chinese perceive and understand their own history.
Xinran, the acclaimed author of The Good Women of China and Sky Burial, traveled across China in 2005 and 2006, seeking out the nation’s grandparents and great-grandparents, the men and women who have experienced, firsthand, the vast changes of the modern era. In cities and remote villages, Xinran spoke with members of these generations from all tiers of society, interviewing them for the first and perhaps the last time. Although many of them feared repercussions for speaking freely, they spoke to Xinran with stunning candor about their hopes, fears, and struggles, and about what they have witnessed: from the Long March to land reform, from Mao to marriage, from revolution to Westernization. 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 of this same period for the Chinese themselves has been infinitely more complex.
In the same way that Studs Terkel’s Working and Tom Brokaw’s The Greatest Generation gave us the essence of very particular times, China Witness gives us the essence of modern China–a portrait more intimate, nuanced, and revelatory than any we have had before.
Xinran was born in Beijing in 1958 and moved to London in 1997 to write for The Guardian. She is author of The Good Women of China, a seminal book about the lives of Chinese women, and Sky Burial. Her charity, The Mothers’ Bridge of Love, was founded to help disadvantaged Chinese children and to build a bridge of understanding between the West and China.