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The Promise: Love and Loss in Modern China

Xinran Xue William Spence



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10 January 2019
History; Asian history; Postwar 20th century history, from c 1945 to c 2000
At the start of the twentieth century in China, the Hans were married in an elaborate ceremony before they were even born. While their future was arranged by their families, this couple had much to be grateful for. Not only did they come from similar backgrounds - and as such were recognized as a good match - they also had a shared passion in their deep love of ancient Chinese poetry. They went on to have nine children and chose colours portrayed in some of their favourite poems as nicknames for them - Red, Cyan, Orange, Yellow, Green, Ginger, Violet, Blue and Rainbow. Fate, and the sweep of twentieth century history would later divide these children into three groups: three went to America or Hong Kong to protect the family line from the communists; three were married to revolutionaries having come of age as China turned red; while three suffered tragic early deaths.

With her trademark wisdom and warmth, Xinran describes the lives and loves of this extraordinary family over four generations. What emerges is not only a moving, beautifully-written and engaging story of four people and their lives, but a crucial portrait of social change in China. Xinran begins with the magic and tragedy of one young couples wedding night in 1950, and goes on to tell personal experiences of loss, grief and hardship through China's extraordinary century. In doing so she tells a bigger story - how traditional Chinese values have been slowly eroded by the tide of modernity and how their outlooks on love, and the choices they've made in life, have been all been affected by the great upheavals of Chinese history.

A spell-binding and magical narrative, this is the story of modern China through the people who lived through it, and the story of their love and loss.
By:   Xinran Xue
Translated by:   William Spence
Imprint:   I B TAURIS
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 216mm,  Width: 138mm, 
Weight:   484g
ISBN:   9781788313629
ISBN 10:   1788313623
Pages:   288
Publication Date:   10 January 2019
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active
Promises and `talking love': my inspirations for this book Map of China Key Dates Introduction Note on the Text Part I. A Love Coloured by Wars and Political Movements First sister, Red Part II. A Communist Family Tree Second sister, Green Part III. A Bird's Love during the Cultural Revolution Green's daughter, Crane Part IV. Diverse `Lovers' The 3D Generation: Lili, Yoyo, Wuhen Afterword: In and Out the Door of Life Author's Heartfelt Thanks

Xinran is a Chinese author, journalist and activist. The host of a ground-breaking Chinese radio show `Thoughts on the Night Breeze' which invited women from across the country to discuss their issues in a frank and open setting, Xinran was a pioneer. Her first book, based on ten years of her radio show, was released in 2002 - The Good Women of China was a literary sensation in the West and has now been published all over the world in more than 30 languages, becoming an international bestseller. She has written one novel, Miss Chopsticks, and four other non-fiction books: Sky Burial, China Witness, Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother and Buy Me the Sky. Xinran lectures and gives speeches on writing and Chinese women and history in over twenty countries. In 2004, she set up The Mothers' Bridge of Love charity to create a bridge of understanding between China and the West. Xinran is based in London, but visits China regularly.

Reviews for The Promise: Love and Loss in Modern China

Reporting on four generations of one Chinese family and their diverging paths, Xinran shows how the country's social norms have changed through politics and the rise of modernity. * New York Times * Xinran Xue is a gifted storyteller and The Promise reads like an unputdownable novel. William Spence's translation from Chinese into English cannot be over-praised. * Washington BookReview * [A] graceful work that restores a lost generation to history. * Kirkus Review * `An absorbing, often startling, always persuasive exploration of contemporary China.' -- Hilary Spurling on 'Buy Me The Sky' * The Spectator * One would have to have a heart of stone not to be moved. * The Economist on 'Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother' * Groundbreaking... This intimate record reads like an act of defiance, and the unvarnished prose allows each story to stand as testimony. * The New Yorker on 'The Good Women of China' * `Right here we see the red lines that many Chinese still draw for themselves in public discourse, or even privately, the boundaries they dare not cross even today. No other style of storytelling could have exhibited them with more clarity or greater rawness.' -- Oliver August on 'China Witness' * THE TIMES * Exploring love and loss in modern China is a big job but it is in simplifying the overwhelming that Xinran excels. And in the introduction to this compelling and moving book, the author clarifies just how she has managed the task...In these carefully told vignettes, Xinran takes the reader through a century of tumult and change in China, her writing beautifully reflecting the intimate and honest voices of the women whose stories of love she tells. * The Weekend Australian * 'Xinran writes with a fine balance of economy, compassion and wisdom, and manages to be at once proud, critical, forward-looking, nostalgic, sad, angry and hopeful.' * The New Statesman * `Xinran evokes the multiple, layered cultures and customs of modern China with bright, memorable detail and empathy for her characters.' * The Guardian on 'Miss Chopsticks' * Xinran's The Promise is an epical account depicting the emotional life of four generations of a Chinese family. It is an important book that paints a multi-faceted portrait of a society undergoing radical social transition. This book cracks the code of love, loneliness, and belonging of contemporary China. -- Xiaolu Guo, author of 'I Am China' A brilliant storyteller -- Hilary Spurling

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