For eight groundbreaking years, Xinran presented a radio programme in China during which she invited women to call in and talk about themselves. Broadcast every evening, "Words on the Night Breeze" became famous through the country for its unflinching portrayal of what it meant to be a woman in modern China. Centuries of obedience to their fathers, husbands and sons, followed by years of political turmoil had made women terrified of talking openly about their feelings. Xinran won their trust and, through her compassion and ability to listen, became the first woman to hear their true stories. This unforgettable book is the story of how Xinran negotiated the minefield of restrictions imposed on Chinese journalists to reach out to women across the country. Through the vivid intimacy of her writing, the women's voices confide in the reader, sharing their deepest secrets for the first time. Their stories changed Xinran's understanding of China forever. Her book will reveal the lives of Chinese women to the West as never before.
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Xinran's The Good Women of China continues the tradition of Chinese women writing in recent years. Jung Chang, in Wild Swans, and Aiping Mu, in Vermilion Gate, for example, have written of the effect of recent Chinese history on themselves and their families. However, both of these books, and others like them, have been by women from the upper echelons of Chinese society. What of ordinary Chinese women? How are their voices to be heard?
Xinran worked for eight years as a well-known presenter at a Chinese radio station. As a public figure, she received many letters. Most of them were from women. Moved by the stories she was hearing in the letters, she decided to go in search of more of the truths about Chinese women's lives. What she found was terrible suffering; women who had endured lengthy sexual abuse during the Cultural Revolution, women whose wretched poverty was made more miserable by the dictates of a male-centred society, women who had had their children taken from them or who had lost them in earthquakes and other natural disasters. And, amid all the suffering, she found their capacity to endure and somehow survive.
Xinran is not a diffident or modest journalist. The reader gets to hear quite a lot of people in the course of her book, telling her how honest and humane and famous she is. This is, unsurprisingly, exasperating. However, someone more modest, and with a less robust sense of her own importance and the importance of what she was doing, would not have gathered the material that she has done. She would not have gone to those places she needed to go in order to record the stories in her book. The voices of the many women to whom she listened would not have been heard. --Nick RennisionReview:
"These are stories that must be read" ( Amy Tan)
"This is a book from deep in the heart of China. As shocking as it is revealing... An extraordinary and eye-opening read" ( Jon Snow)
"Xinran's "Good Women of China" are all strong, strikingly resourceful characters who offer unforgettable insights into the past and present of Chinese women's lives" ( The Times)
" The Good Women of China demands attention" ( Observer)
"[Xinran] writes compassionately but unsentimentally, dramatising the stories like gripping fiction" ( Daily Mail)
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Book Description Vintage, 2006. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 99490838