Sue Baker's view...
Many Chinese memoirs have now been published in the West, but this remains the best – also the biggest – in size and scope – covering three generations. You may find it takes a while to get immersed but persevere and it becomes one of those real “can’t put down” books. The tragic history of modern China is reflected through Jung Chang’s own family, a true epic story that will live with you long after you reach the last page.
Like for Like Reading:
The Good Women of China: Hidden Voices, Xinran
Falling Leaves Return to Their Roots: The True Story of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter, Adeline Yen Mah
A "Piece of Passion" from the publisher...
Although it’s now twenty years ago, I still remember the first time I read the typescript of Wild Swans. I was absolutely overwhelmed by it, and I had no doubt that other readers would feel the same. Little did I imagine, however, that it would become the worldwide phenomenon it did. The reasons for its extraordinary success are not hard to understand. Wild Swans is the true family story of three women who embody the history of twentieth-century China: Jung Chang’s grandmother, the concubine of a feudal warlord; her mother, a dedicated and highly placed Communist official who found herself and her husband persecuted by Mao’s regime; and Jung herself, a young Red Guard who grew up to question Mao, and to accomplish the then near-miraculous feat of escaping China for the West. But no mere summary can remotely do justice to this book. You’ll have to read it for yourself.
Who is Sue Baker ?
Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang
A new edition of one of the bestselling and best-loved books of recent years, with a new introduction by the author. The publication of 'Wild Swans' in 1991 was a worldwide phenomenon. Not only did it become the bestselling non-fiction book in British publishing history, with sales of well over two million, it was received with unanimous critical acclaim, and was named the winner of the 1992 NCR Book Award and the 1993 British Book of the Year Award. Few books have ever had such an impact on their readers. Through the story of three generations of women -- grandmother, mother and daughter -- 'Wild Swans' tells nothing less than the whole tumultuous history of China's tragic 20th-century, from sword-bearing warlords to Chairman Mao, from the Manchu Empire to the Cultural Revolution. At times terrifying, at times astonishing, always deeply moving, 'Wild Swans' is a book in a million, a true story with all the passion and grandeur of a great novel. For this new edition, Jung Chang has written a new introduction, bringing her own story up to date, and describing the effect the success of 'Wild Swans' has had on her life.
'It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of this book.'
'Everything about Wild Swans is extraordinary. It arouses all the emotions, such as pity and terror, that great tragedy is supposed to evoke, and also a complex mixture of admiration, despair and delight at seeing a luminous intelligence directed at the heart of darkness.'
Minette Marrin, Sunday Telegraph
'Immensely moving and unsettling; an unforgettable portrait of the brain-death of a nation.'
J.G. Ballard, Sunday Times
Wild Swans made me feel like a five-year-old. This is a family memoir that has the breadth of the most enduring social history.
Martin Amis, Independent on Sunday
'There has never been a book like this.'
Edward Behr, Los Angeles Times
About the Author
||Jung Chang was born in Yibin, Sichuan Province, China, in 1952. She was a Red Guard briefly at the age of fourteen and then worked as a peasant, a "barefoot doctor," a steelworker, and an electrician before becoming an English-language student and, later, an assistant lecturer at Sichuan University. She left China for Britain in 1978 and was subsequently awarded a scholarship by York University, where she obtained a Ph.D. in linguistics in 1982, the first person from the People's Republic of China to receive a doctorate from a British university. Her award-winning book, Wild Swans, was published in 1991.
More books by this author
Author 'Like for Like' recommendation