Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Jung Chang

Jung Chang's latest book is Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister: Three Women at the Heart of Twentieth-Century China.

From her Q&A with Anita Sethi at the Guardian:

How did it shape you growing up in a country with cultural censorship?

I had always wanted to be a writer as a child but couldn’t spell out this dream to myself because during the Cultural Revolution all writers were condemned. To be a writer was the most dangerous profession. I wrote my first poem aged 16 and destroyed it. When I was working spreading manure in the paddy fields aged 16 and 17, I was always writing in my head. In my home town there was a black market selling books that had been banned. My 13-year-old brother was very entrepreneurial. He made money dealing Mao badges and used it to buy books, which he hid in a hole he dug in the garden.

So you’ve always felt the power of words…

Huge, huge power. My father loved writing and encouraged us to write diaries. But I had to destroy my diary during the revolution.

What are your early memories of living under Mao?

I was in nursery school aged about four and my mother came to see me but had to return to detention before midnight [during the Cultural Revolution, Chang’s parents were denounced, imprisoned and tortured]. I remember she held my hand through the barrier and then pulled her hand away and was gone because...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue