Hunger Trilogy

Jo-Wang Wang, Author M.E. Sharpe $81.95 (135p) ISBN 978-0-87332-739-8
This tautly written autobiographical novella sparked controversy in 1980 when it was first published in China; according to Rubin, many reviewers reacted negatively to Ruowang's revelations of how both Chiang Kai-shek and Mao used starvation as a political tool, a comparison previously taboo, and to the graphic descriptions of hunger, which flouted cultural traditions. While Westerners may find the idealism of the characters here somewhat old-fashioned (on his deathbed, one says, ``I'll be going to see Marx with a clear conscience''), the exposition is gripping, especially the harrowing passages about prison life. Thrown into prison in 1934 at age 16, the narrator is sustained by his comrades' simple faith in the ultimate triumph of the Red Army. The revolutionaries stage a successful hunger strike and, as part of a general amnesty, the narrator is released. In a second brush with starvation, the narrator with his military unit flees the occupying Japanese army in 1942 and becomes lost in a remote forest. Finally, in a bitter indictment of the Cultural Revolution, the narrator describes his incarceration in 1966 for ``counter-revolutionary'' activities, occasioning his third and final bout with hunger. Ruowang, a prominent Chinese intellectual, was jailed for his involvement in the recent pro-democracy movement. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991
Release date: 01/01/1991
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