For seven years, Xinran Xue hosted a daily radio phone-in programme for Radio Nanjing during which she discussed women's lives, and invited women to call in and talk about themselves. Broadcast between 10 and 12 at night, Words on the Night Breeze soon became famous all over China for its powerful, honest discussions of what it means to be a woman in today's China. It started in 1990, a time when China seemed to be 'opening up', both for the Chinese and for the world. Xinran's programme revealed aspects of women's lives that had never been talked about in public before. She felt as if she was opening a tiny window into a huge fortress whose inhabitants had never before communicated with the outside world. Soon she was receiving over two hundred letters a day from women telling her their stories. She realised that she knew far less than she had thought about what it means to be a Chinese woman and embarked on a journey of discovery to collect their stories. The stories presented here tell of almost inconceivable suffering: rape, sexual abuse, the separation of parents from their children, the suppression of human emotion in order to survive the Communist regime - never before have the tortured souls of Chinese women been laid so bare. And yet this is also a book about love - about how, despite cruelty, despite politics, the female urge to nurture and cherish remains. And then there is Xinran herself: an extraordinary woman who, despite her own unhappy past, has given her life to saving the stories of Chinese women from oblivion,.
An unprecedented, intimate account of the lives of modern Chinese women, told by the women themselves -- true stories of the political and personal upheavals they have endured in their chaotic and repressive society
For eight groundbreaking years, Xinran hosted a radio program in China during which she invited women to call in and talk about themselves. Broadcast every evening, Words on the Night Breeze became famous throughout the country for its unflinching portrayal of what it meant to be a woman in modern China. Centuries of obedience to their fathers, husbands and sons, followed by years of fear under Communism, had made women terrified of talking openly about their feelings. Xinran won their trust and, through her compassion and ability to listen, became the first woman to hear their true stories.
This unforgettable book is the story of how Xinran negotiated the minefield of restrictions imposed on Chinese journalists to reach out to women across the country. Through the vivid intimacy of her writing, these women confide in the reader, sharing their deepest secrets. Whether they are the privileged wives of party leaders or peasants in a forgotten corner of the countryside, they tell of almost inconceivable suffering: forced marriages, sexual abuse, separation of parents from their children, extreme poverty. But they also talk about love -- about how, despite cruelty, despite politics, the urge to nurture and cherish remains. Their stories changed Xinran?s understanding of China forever. Her book will reveal the lives of Chinese women to the West as never before.
From the Inside Flap
"These are stories that must be read. The lives of these anonymous women are so moving that when I finished reading their stories I felt my soul had been altered. This is a rare collection of testimonies that show the scale of our humanity, both good and bad, wondrous and horrific. The voices are poetic in their simplicity and honesty. I feel privileged and humbled to have been witness to the lives of these good women."
From the Back Cover