Sunday, May 9, 2010

REVIEW: China Witness

China Witness: Voices From A Silent Generation
Vintage Books
Rs 795
Pp 345
ISBN: 0307388530

"China Witness "is a remarkable work of oral history that lets us see the cultural upheavals of the past century through the eyes of the Chinese who lived through them.
Xinran, acclaimed author of The Good Women of China, traveled across China seeking out the nation's grandparents and great-grandparents, the men and women who experienced firsthand the tremendous changes of the modern era. Although many of them feared repercussions, they spoke with stunning candor about their hopes, fears, and struggles, and about what they witnessed: from the Long March to land reform, from Mao to marriage, from revolution to Westernization. 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.

China journey Business Standard
Author Xinran’s China Witness is a truly magnificent book straddling fine scholarship and great storytelling. China Witness is an account of people’s lives during China’s Red history (1949-1978). While some have lived to tell the tale, there are stories of people no more, through the eyes of their near and dear ones. The exercise provides an insightful, and valuable, compass to understand the depth and reach of the dramatic socio-political, economic changes of post-socialist China.

The book takes us on a journey through China’s Red history as great grandparents and grandparents of today unfold less-known, forgotten and glossed over vignettes of those Red years, through an account of their lives, struggles and tribulations.

The book is a moving chronicle of those times. It tells the story, the experiences of 11 different individuals (in different provinces of China) from different walks of life, but all uniformly caught in the vortex of socialism. In some ways, the book is almost a reminder of what is and what was, as it alternates between the past and present, and thus helps us view China through the different lenses of socialism and post-socialism.

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