Friday, January 30, 2009

The Good Women of China

January 26 was the start of the Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year because it's start is linked to the moon. I thought this would be a perfect choice for the January holiday for the Every Month is a Holiday challenge.

The book I read was Xinran's The Good Women of China. Now, I would NEVER have heard of Xinran if it's hadn't been for Joy and the A-Z Challenge that she hosted last year. X authors are hard to find! I decided to do this challenge again this year (this time hosted by ...) and so was in a fix once more. I am so incredibly glad that I picked up Xinran's book when I saw it in a secondhand bookstore. I really think that my life is richer because I read this one.

The Good Women of China is non-fiction. Xinran is a Chinese journalist who had a radio show about Chinese women and their lives. Women could call in or leave messages and had the opportunity to tell their stories. Xinran gathered these stories and her experiences getting them and meeting the women involved and put it all in a book.

What she created is very powerful. Women in China had to live through so much - not only the traditional society aspect of things but also the political side of things. Women were married off by either their parents or by the revolution. They were used, abused and thrown out. They lost their children, they lost the loves of their lives, they ended up alone or with husbands they didn't care for. Survival was the main goal and everything else got buried in the process.

But these women's stories show that some things can't be buried, not really. The emotions in this book are so powerful that I couldn't tear myself away from the stories. Who knew that a non-fiction book about women in China could be such a page turner?

I think that this one sentence sums up how the Cultural Revolution affected people:
"Humanity and wisdom were banished to places which did not know there was anywhere in this world where women could say 'no' and men could read newspapers."
Reading this made me sad for the people of China and very interested in reading more about their country, including about the Cultural Revolution. If you've read anything interesting on these subjects, please let me know!

Challenges: 999 Challenge, A-Z Challenge, Countdown Challenge, Dewey Decimal System Challenge, Every Month is a Holiday, New Authors, Well-Seasoned Reader, World Citizen Challenge


Amy said...

Oh my gosh! This is why the book blogosphere is so wonderful! I read this book a few years ago, and it really impacted me, but I could NOT remember the name of it. Thanks for posting your review.

joanna said...

Glad to help Amy! :-)