Thursday, June 11, 2009

Reading recommendations: Chinese people

All of these books are great reads. :)

Cultural Revolution:
  • Wild Swans (Jung Chang) - an autobiographical family history of three generations of women, the first of whom was married to a warlord (I think) and the last of whom grew up as the daughter of somewhat powerful officials during the Cultural Revolution. Grounds a lot of the context one learns about Chinese history surrounding the Cultural Revolution.
  • Red Scarf Girl (Ji-Li Jiang) - an autobiographical story of a girl who was a teenager during the Cultural Revolution and had to participate in in Red Guard. I read this when I was around the age of the narrator (12) and it put a lot things into perspective.
  • Mao's Last Revolution (Roderick MacFarquhar) - I have not read this whole book but I took a course from Roderick MacFarquhar, who was an amazing lecturer (and amazing person!). (This is the best course I have ever taken--the lectures and readings were unparalleled.) After becoming a reporter in order to go into government, he ended up in China during the Cultural Revolution and became a major Chinese history scholar. I admire how he has tried to get a good picture from all sides with respect to the cultural Revolution and he is able to convey this information in an interesting and clear way. (He was later a member of British Parliament.)
Chinese-American immigration:
  • Tea that Burns (Bruce Hall) - the fourth-generation Chinese American author traces his family's history in context of Chinese immigration to Chinatowns in the 19th century. A great way to learn about the history of Chinese-American immigration.
Gender issues:
  • Bound Feet and Western Dress (Pang-Mei Natasha Chang) - the American-born, Harvard-educated author writes a dual memoir about her great-aunt Chang Yu-I, a member of an important Chinese family, and her own struggles with discovering her identity as a Chinese American woman. The book talks a lot about Chang Yu-I's struggle to establish a place for herself as a Chinese woman in a changing world: she did not have her feet bound because she cried too much and her brother dissuaded her mother from continuing; she was part of the first modern divorce in China; she became the first woman vice president of a Shanghai bank. This book resonated with my own struggle to resolve my desire to preserve tradition with the fact that many traditional Chinese values devalue women.

1 comment:

Yan said...

"Zhou Enlai: The Last Perfect Revolutionary" has been out for a couple of years. Written by his official biographer in China (who has the most "realistic" picture possible and who fled to the US before writing it after smuggling the notes through many little notecard boxes), it gives the most accurate picture we know about the only person relatively untainted by the fiasco of the CR, and probably one of my favorite characters in the story.

Also, I haven't read this one yet, but Zhao Ziyang's secret diaries were smuggled to the west as well and made into a book as of 5/14/09!!!! He has apparently many radical ideas there, so this should be worth a read.

I linked to you. Link me. Tell me if you must change your description.