The Book of the Month for November is Xue Xinran's The Good Women of China.
For eight groundbreaking years, Xinran presented a radio programme in China during which she invited ordinary women to call in and talk about themselves. Broadcast every evening, Words on the Night Breeze became famous throughout the country for its unflinching portrayal of what it meant to be a woman in modern China. Centuries of obedience to their fathers, husbands and sons, followed by years of political turmoil had made women terrified of talking openly about their feelings. Xinran won their trust and, through her compassion and ability to listen, became the first woman to hear their true stories. Xinran also gives an insight into her own life: she was sent to live with her grandmother when she was one month old and didn't see her mother until she was five. Her parents were imprisoned as suspected reactionaries and Xinran and her brother spent five years in a school for 'polluted' children. As Xinran writes, 'it is characteristic of the modern Chinese to have either a family with no feelings, or feelings but no family'.
The Good Women of China is the story of how Xinran negotiated the minefield of restrictions imposed on Chinese journalists to reach out to women across the country. Through the vivid intimacy of her writing, the women's voices confide in the reader, sharing their deepest secrets for the first time. Just as their stories changed Xinran's understanding of China forever, so too will the readers' preconceptions be challenged by this remarkable read. Xinran's book reveals the lives of Chinese women to the West as never before.