Woman from Shanghai
Tales of Survival from a Chinese Labor Camp
Other Editions of This Title:
Between 1957 and 1960, nearly three thousand Chinese citizens were labeled “Rightists” by the Communist Part and banished to Jianiangou in China’s northwestern desert region of Gansu to undergo “reeducation” through hard labor. These exiles men and women were subjected to horrific conditions, and by 1961 the camp was closed because of the stench of death: of the rougly three thousand inmates, only about five hundred survived.
In 1997, Xianhui Yang traveled to Gansu and spent the next five years interviewing more than one hundred survivors of the camp. In Woman from Shanghai he presents thirteen of their stories, which have been crafted into fiction in order to evade Chinese censorship but which lose none of their fierce power. These are tales of ordinary people facing extraordinary tribulations, time and again securing their humanity against those who were intent on taking it away.
Xianhui Yang gives us a remarkable synthesis of journalism and fiction—a timely, important and uncommonly moving book.
Praise For Woman from Shanghai: Tales of Survival from a Chinese Labor Camp…
“In Woman from Shanghai, Xianhui Yang describes in wrenching detail the squalid conditions and widespread starvation that only 600 of the 3,000 prisoners were able to survive. Even some who lived to see their convictions reversed were forced to become paid employees of the labor camp. . . . Despite these horrors, there are stories of selflessness and fortitude.” —Sarah Halzack, The Washington Post
“Told in stark, spare yet deeply compelling prose, infused with unsentimental compassion, Woman From Shanghai stands out amid the voluminous literature and testimonies about the persecution in Mao’s labor camps. It exposes torture and dehumanization, but is also a powerful rumination on hope, love and humanity.” —Fan Wu, San Francisco Chronicle
“With these complex, yet simple stories, Yang uncovers another chapter of China’s hidden history. More important, he shows how strong the human spirit can be and how hard it is to break.” —Chicago Sun-Times
“With unadorned simplicity, Yang’s works reject superficiality and demonstrate restraint, very much like the deceptively calm expression of a person whose mind is tortured by chaos. This type of controlled restraint draws the readers to the special magic of his stories.” —Lei Da, Executive Deputy Chair of the Chinese Writers’ Association
“Yang’s stories are the Chinese Gulag Archipelago that emerged from the deep water. Yang and other Chinese writers use their pen as weapons to defend our memory and preserve our history.”—Yu Jie, prominent Chinese critic
Anchor, 9780307390974, 320pp.
Publication Date: August 24, 2010
About the Author
Wen Huang is a writer and translator whose articles and translations have appeared in the Paris Review, the Asian Literary Review, the Chicago Tribune and The Christian Science Monitor. He translated Chinese writer Liao Yiwu’s The Corpse Walker: Real Life Stories: China from the Bottom Up.