From Publishers Weekly
In 1988, Xinran (ne Xue Hue) was selected to work in state media and ended up at the Nanjing radio station, where she began broadcasting "Words on the Night Breeze" a year later. The show featured letters and calls from ordinary women discussing their problems, and was hugely successful and revelatory, as women had few avenues, public or private, for talking about their lives, which were frequently grim and often harrowing. Xinran quit the show in 1995 to try to help her listeners directly, but by 1997 she had burned out. She persuaded the radio station authorities to let her travel to England, where she began teaching Chinese, met and married English book agent Toby Eady and wrote this memoir of her experiences on the program, including a compendium of some of the most painful of the "Night Breeze" stories. She presents narratives from women who live "in emotionless political marriages" and those, the majority, who struggle "amid poverty and hardship." They have commonly experienced sexual abuse: rape, frequently gang rape. Apparently designed to bring the women's horrific stories to light, the book doesn't do enough to situate them clearly in the context of the show as a state-produced product, or within Xinran's own difficulties in processing and presenting the material on the air (or in this book). The results will leave readers sympathetic to the grave enormity of the women's circumstances, but-due perhaps to minor translation problems and Xinran's lingering political worries-somewhat confused about how Xinran tried to deal with their plights.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
In 1989, Xinran, a Beijing journalist, began broadcasting a nightly program on state radio that was devoted entirely to personal affairs—a radical concept in Communist China. In response, she received thousands of letters from women, many with questions about sexuality; one woman wondered "why her heart beat faster when she accidentally bumped into a man on the bus." Eventually, Xinran persuaded her superiors to let her share some of these letters on the air, and in this groundbreaking book, written after she moved to London, in 1997, she has also included stories that didn't make it past government censors. A teen-ager commits suicide after learning that a neighbor has seen her boyfriend kiss her forehead; a university student speaks casually of becoming a "personal secretary," or mistress, to a rich man; a Kuomintang general's daughter goes mad after witnessing the torture of the family that sheltered her. This intimate record reads like an act of defiance, and the unvarnished prose allows each story to stand as testimony.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker