Wild Swans

From ArticleWorld

Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang is a personal history of Chinese women from three generations spanning the 20th century, Chang, her mother, and her gandmother. The women of the family are witness to, and affected by the century's political changes in China. Published in 1992, the book has won awards in the UK and the US, and is the biggest-selling non-fiction book in publishing history, selling 10 million copies, and remaining on bestseller lists in English-language bookstores around the world. In China, however, the book is banned and Chang, who in Wild Swans is critical of the Communist Party of China and the entire period under Mao, has been accused of fabricating some parts of the book.

Warlords to Communists

The book covers China and Chinese women and families in the time of local rulers and warlords (Chang's grandmother was the concubine of one), as well as the later changes, from the Japanese occupation to the struggle between the Communist Party and the Kuomintang, through the trials of the Cultural Revolution and Chang's own involvement with Maoist movement. Chang's narration of her mother's and grandmother's physical and emotional and intellectual tribulations, the humiliation and near-torture endured, and difficult choices is generally acknowledged to be compelling, in addition to providing a vivid insight into what life was like at different times in 20th century Chinese history.


Chang's own story is also of interest. Initially an enthusiastic participant in the Cultural Revolution, Chang worked as a 'barefoot doctor' in the countryside and her writing of these experiences provides a valuable glimpse of a kind of life outside the Chinese metropolis. Her subsequent disillusionment and departure for the UK, where she lives today and is a professor of Chinese Studies go some way in explaining why Wild Swans is banned in China, as do her graphic and frank depictions of the different cycles of violence and hopelessness she sees in 20th century China. Chang is also the author with of Mao: The Unknown Story with Jon Halliday.