Chinese Lives: Oral History

Zhang Xinxin, Author, Hsin-Hsin Chang, Author, Zhang Xinxin, Author Pantheon Books $18.95 (367p) ISBN 978-0-394-55928-5
Interviewing people throughout China in 1984, the authors, a journalist and a novelist, have compiled an unprecedented look at the People's Republic. The speakers range from an entrepreneurial street urchin selling popcorn, to a convict, a hippie-type young man hiking and biking around the country and a rehabilitated prostitute. One portrait is of a bookstore manager who earnestly defends the country's policy of controlling what books are sold. In his store, he says, to help guard public morality, when customers purchase a copy of Sex Information and What Newlyweds Need to Know "" . . . we also make them take a copy of How to Repair Electrical Appliances.'' Many of the interviewees are survivors of the Cultural Revolution andare scrambling hard to succeed in China's new climate of materialism; nearly all speak informally and candidly. The result is an appealing, patchwork-quilt portrayal of contemporary life in a nation famed in the West for its inscrutability. (October 22)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1987
Release date: 09/01/1987
Genre: Nonfiction
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