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1. Red Azalea by Anchee Min 1995
See Chinese Culture Net's Interview with Ms. Min
During the Chinese Cultural Revolution, a woman sought love and comfort from another woman. A true powerful account about humiliation, betrayal, love, despair and dignity.
Passionate and dreamlike writing style! A bestseller of 1995!
2. Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng 1988
See Chinese Culture Net's Archive about Ms. Cheng
Here is the haunting, inspirational account of Nien Cheng's six-and-a-half years as a political prisoner during Communist China's Cultural Revolution.
The book shows one Chinese woman's amazing courage and grace in what was truly a hell on earth.
3. Bound Feet & Western Dress by Pang- Mei Natasha Chang 1996
As a first-generation Chinese-American dutifully majoring in Chinese studies, Pang-Mei Natasha Chang stumbled across the name of her great-aunt Chang Yu-i in a history book. To Pang-Mei's astonishment, her eighty-three-year-old aunt, best known in the family for her retiring ways and masculine manner, had once been married to Hsu Chih-mo, China's preeminent modern poet, had run the Shanghai Women's Savings Bank during the 1930s, and had suffered the anguish of enduring what is considered China's first Western-style divorce. The book reveals the intimate details of that once very high-profiled history.
Author Natasha Chang was raised in Connecticut. She received her B.A. in Chinese and her J.D. from Columbia University
4.Red Scarf Girl By Ji-Li Jiang 1997
The picture on the cover of Red Scarf Girl is that of a young Chinese girl, smiling and wearing the red scarf of young Pioneers, the young group considered the first step toward membership in the Communist part. The photo on the inside of the back cover is of a beautiful self-assured young woman who now lives in the San Francisco area.
But it's the unforgettable picture that Ji-Li Jiang paints with words that will forever haunt the readers of her book.
Ji-Li was a twelve-year-old sixth grader in 1966 when the culture Revolution began in her native People's Republic of China. She was outstanding among her peers, both as a student and as leaders. Like all schoolchildren at the time, she'd been taught that "Heaven and Earth are great, but greater still is the kindness of the Communist party; father and mother are dear, but dearer still is Chairman Mao." Her future in Chairman Mao's New China seemed assured, at least to her.
And then Mao's call for "perpetual revolution" mobilized Red Guards to wage class war against traditional society. Suddenly intelligence was a crime and a wealthy family background brought on persecution or worse. For Ji-Li, granddaughter of a landlord, suddenly everything changed.
In short order the Chinese educational system was criticized, and Ji-Li, along with her classmates, was set to the task of writing posters denouncing her beloved school and teachers. Eventually criticism extended to students as well. Accustomed to excellence and acclaim, Ji-Li was so humiliated by a poster her classmates used to denounce her that she stayed home from school until a storm destroyed all the posters in the school yard. Still, she was sure that the changes in society were bringing new life to China.
5. Spider Eaters by Rae Yang , 1997
Earlier this century the Chinese writer Lu Xun said that some of our ancestors must have bravely attempted to eat crabs so that we would learn they were edible. Trails with spiders were not so enjoyable. Our ancestors suffered their bitter taste and spared us their poison. Rae yang, a daughter of privilege, became a spider eater at age fifteen, when she enthusiastically joined the Red Guards in Beijing. By seventeen, she volunteered to work on a pig farm and thus began to live at the bottom of Chinese society.
With stunning honesty and a lively, sly humor, the complex and likeable Yang incorporates the legends, and local customs of China to evoke the political and moral crises that the revolution brought upon her over three decades, from 1950 to 1980. Unique to memoirist if this genre, Yang expresses often-overlooked psychological nuances and, with admirable candor, charts her own path as both victim and victimizer.
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