The Good Women of China (Paperback)

The Good Women of China Cover Image
By Xinran
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An unprecedented, intimate account of the lives of modern Chinese women, told by the women themselves -- true stories of the political and personal upheavals they have endured in their chaotic and repressive society

For eight groundbreaking years, Xinran hosted a radio program in China during which she invited women to call in and talk about themselves. Broadcast every evening, Words on the Night Breeze became famous throughout 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 fear under Communism, 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, these women confide in the reader, sharing their deepest secrets. Whether they are the privileged wives of party leaders or peasants in a forgotten corner of the countryside, they tell of almost inconceivable suffering: forced marriages, sexual abuse, separation of parents from their children, extreme poverty. But they also talk about love -- about how, despite cruelty, despite politics, the urge to nurture and cherish remains. Their stories changed Xinran's understanding of China forever. Her book will reveal the lives of Chinese women to the West as never before.

From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Xinran was born in 1958. After a career in the army, she became a journalist in the late 1980s, working as a radio broadcaster and as head of Jiangsu Broadcasting Television. A professor of psychology, Xinran now lives in England. From the Hardcover edition.

Praise For…

"Xinran's prose is remarkably evocative, bursting with details that make each account haunting. These stories have all the force of good fiction. More remarkable, they combine vigorous universalism with a bone-deep cultural authority." -- Etelka Lehoczky, The Washington Post

"These are stories that must be read. The lives of these anonymous women are so moving that when I finished reading their stories I felt my soul had been altered. This is a rare collection of testimonies that show the scale of our humanity, both good and bad, wondrous and horrific. The voices are poetic in their simplicity and honesty. I feel privileged and humbled to have been witness to the lives of these good women." -- Amy Tan

“Mao said, ‘Women hold up half of heaven.’ Sadly, this remarkable book demonstrates that he was wrong. Women in China actually hold up half of hell. Xinran has written the first realistic portrayal of women in China. Read it, and weep.” -- Jan Wong, author of Red China Blues and Jan Wong’s China

“The power of [this] book stems from its simplicity. It consists of unpretentiously written, often first-hand accounts of the severe maltreatment or exploitation of women, rather than of the mechanical aplication of feminist doctrines to China…. An honest book, not propaganda…” -- Sunday Telegraph

“ [Xinran] writes compassionately but unsentimentally, dramatising the stories like gripping fiction. It is like coming across a collection of harrowing short stories of Victorial sexual oppression with a painful sting in their tails. Maupassant would be envious of such material. But it is not fiction: it is the life of women in China -- at least until Xinran let in the daylight with this courageous blow.. Ten years ago, Wild Swans gripped millions of readers with the vicissitudes of one Chinese family. I should not be surprised if The Good Women of China, which casts its net far wider, has a similar impact. It deserves to. It’s a book you can’t stop thinking about after you’ve put it down.” -- Daily Mail

“Xinran writes with great compassion and with a compelling narrative style, giving insight into aspects of life in China that would not mormally be seen or known about by foreigners.” -- China-Britain Trade Review (Aug 2002)

The Good Women of China is impressive as a collection of horror stories, most of which ring true; they can be added to the complaints of other Chinese women, both in memoir and fiction. One longs for the corrective of positive action.” -- TLS

“The book is compelling on so many levels. First, the riveting stories make the book hard to put down. At the same time, it’s not an easy read with the horrific level of abuse in some stories. Also compelling is Xinran’s commitment to the women…. While the stories are heart breaking and disturbing, they’re also a must read because they provide a rare glimpse into a part of twentieth century Chinese culture we don’t often hear about, the lives of Chinese women.” -- The Hamilton Spectator

“Another kind of classic comes from China, thanks to the single-named Xinran’s heartbreaking book The Good Women of China…. The Good Women of China is delicate, beautiful, low-key and devastating.” -- The Toronto Star

Product Details
ISBN: 9780679312260
Publisher: Vintage Canada
Publication Date: November 11th, 2003
Pages: 256