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China Witness is the personal testimony of a generation whose stories have not yet been told. Here the grandparents and great-grandparents of today sum up in their own words - for the first and perhaps the last time - the vast changes that have overtaken China's people over a century. The book is at once a journey by the author through time and place, and a memorial to those who have lived through war and civil war, persecution, invasion, revolution, famine, modernization, Westernization - and have survived into the 21st century. We meet everyday heroes, now in their seventies, eighties and nineties, from across this vast country - a herb woman at a market, retired teachers, a legendary 'double-gun woman', Red Guards, oil pioneers, an acrobat, a female general, a lantern maker, taxi drivers, and more- those whose voices, as Xinran says, 'will help our future understand our past'.
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Right here we see the red lines that many Chinese still draw for themselves in public discourse, or even privately, the boundaries they dare not cross even today. No other style of storytelling could have exhibited them with more clarity or greater rawness - The Times
An incredibly moving and ambitious collection... There is a great deal of light in this powerful book - Independent
Another excellent book...ambitious - Literary Review
These stories are often heart-rending, but are recounted in a very self-effacing way by the subjects themselves... [The book] is deeply engaging and focuses almost exclusively on issues and experiences rarely discussed in China or elsewhere. It takes people to places they would not otherwise have been able to go: into the minds of previously silent witnesses... a stunning insight into its [China's] people - Herald
If you loved Jung Chang's Wild Swans you'll love this book - Image magazine
This extraordinary book tells the story of 20th-century China through the voices of ordinary people... The lives of these everyday heroes make gripping reading - The Gloss (Ireland)
An engaging and affecting book - Economist
Extraordinary - The Independent
Remarkable... This book showcases Xinran's rare talent for getting ordinary Chinese to open up... China Witness says as much about contemporary China as it does about the recent past - Financial Times
About the Author
Xinran was born in Beijing in 1958 and was a successful journalist and radio presenter in China. In 1997 she moved to London, where she began work on her seminal book about Chinese women's lives, The Good Women of China. Since then she has written a regular column for the Guardian; appeared frequently on radio and TV and has published the acclaimed Sky Burial; the novel Miss Chopsticks; the groundbreaking book of oral history China Witness; a book of her Guardian columns called What the Chinese Don't Eat and Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother, about mothers and their lost daughters. She lives in London but travels regularly to China.