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The Good Women of China: Hidden Voices

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  9,692 ratings  ·  1,033 reviews
When Deng Xiaoping’s efforts to “open up” China took root in the late 1980s, Xinran recognized an invaluable opportunity. As an employee for the state radio system, she had long wanted to help improve the lives of Chinese women. But when she was given clearance to host a radio call-in show, she barely anticipated the enthusiasm it would quickly generate. Operating within t ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published November 11th 2003 by Anchor (first published October 2nd 2002)
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Graham Brownett As a man I found the book depressing and enlightening. That it was written in the dark times before China started to open up gives an historical aspec…moreAs a man I found the book depressing and enlightening. That it was written in the dark times before China started to open up gives an historical aspect to women's lives which mature students would now find incredible. There is much more to it than the individual stories, it is a chronicle of the life and times and the hardships that women suffered. I think your students would find it totally absorbing(less)
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) It's not a "story" in the novel/autobiography sense, but rather a collection of anecdotes taken from the author's experience as a radio journalist in …moreIt's not a "story" in the novel/autobiography sense, but rather a collection of anecdotes taken from the author's experience as a radio journalist in China during the "opening up" years of Deng Xiaoping. The unifying thread is the author's own journey in discovering more about the millions of anonymous lives around her.(less)

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Sep 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fic
Wow, scrolling down the comments on this book I realized I'm the first guy to review this. Umm, here goes.

Continuing my year of China reading I casually picked this up at my aunt's house but pretty soon found myself absolutely glued to it. I've read a few memoirs of modern China and the Cultural Revolution, many of which contained stories of shocking cruelty and incredible endurance, but none have affected me quite as much as the stories compiled in this book. The images are just stunning: a gir
"At that time in China, I might have gone to prison for writing a book like this. I couldn't risk abandoning my son, or the women who received help and encouragement through my radio programme. In England, the book became possible. It was as if a pen had grown in my heart."

A stinging indictment of patriarchal violence in China through the ages and the hypocrisy of the Cultural Revolution, a tribute to the destroyed lives of countless women who have been left brutalized by an unjust, barbaric
Sidharth Vardhan
Have you ever seen a stranger or on a bus and wondered what kind of past they have had? This is a book voicing the fates of faces that are lost in crowds.

Xinran hosted a radio call-in show on feminist issues, “Words on the Night Breeze” from 1989 to 1997 which was hugely popular in China. and which brought forth the stories of women from different sections of society, bringing the ugly face of communist China. Almost all stories contain elements of horrible violence, sexual assault, and social
Jul 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literature
This is the saddest book that I have ever read. Heartbreaking stories!
Jan 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Back in Nanjing 1989-1997, Xinran ran a radio program called "Words of the Night Breeze," the motive in her words: "to open a window, a tiny hole, so that people could allow their spirits to cry out and breathe after the gunpowder- laden atmosphere" [of the Cultural Revolution].

The Good Women of China: Hidden Voices is a compilation of 14 life stories taken from personal interviews of some of these 'survivors' - women whose lives were agonizingly destroyed, their families ripped to shreds, thei
Larry Bassett
Feb 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, china
I am chasing my adopted daughter’s heritage by reading books about China, especially as it relates to abandoned and damaged daughters. If you have been reading my reviews for a while, you know that my daughter who is ten years old was abandoned in Aksu, China at the age of 3½ months. We believe that because she had a cleft lip and palate her parents were unable to nourish her so abandoned her in a safe location so someone with more access to medical resources could save her life. She was very ma ...more
Ivana Books Are Magic
Jul 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
The most hearth-breaking stories in this book are those of women that were raped as children. I was somewhat prepared for the descriptions of atrocities committed during Cultural Revolution, and some of the other horrors described in this book but you can never quite prepare yourself for reading about child rape, can you? Perhaps because of that, reading this book reminded me of FDLF cult in USA and its leader Warren Jeffs who was ultimately sentenced for raping 12 year old girls, his ‘brides’. ...more
This is a heartbreaking book which I would never have picked up except I was looking for an X author for my Women Authors A-Z reading challenge this year. I never know how to rate books like these because it’s important to know about the situations in countries other than our own, but I always feel helpless and angry when I know that women are having such frightful difficulties.

I have to bear in mind that this book was published in 2002 originally, the author having moving from China to England
Sep 02, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, queer
Xinran was the presenter of a radio show in China, during which she would ask women to call her and tell her about themselves. Over the years, she gathered many stories of Chinese women, and this book contains fifteen of them, including her own. It's a diverse collection of stories, including the stories of a lesbian woman, of loveless forced marriages, of hopeless love stories, of women who were raped as children...

They're eye-opening, saddening, horrifying. Xinran's matter of fact tone -- thou
May 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone with a social conscience
Recommended to Janet by: liked another book by the same author
This is one of the most tragic books I have ever read. Story after story of shattered lives - simply by being born female. But I recommend it to all women, so that we don't forget how far the world still needs to go and that we who live more comfortable lives don't stay silent. We MUST speak up for those who are powerless to speak for themselves. ...more
M.M. Strawberry Library & Reviews
Wow. What a sobering read. Now, it is no secret that women across the world have gotten the shaft throughout history, in pretty much every country/culture around the world, but some grind it into their women more than others, and China is a prime example of this.

There are fascinating glimpses into the Cultural Revolution in this book and the way the Communist Party so negatively impacted the lives of countless innocent people. I read 'Life and Death in Shangai' by Nien Cheng not too long before
Aug 27, 2012 rated it did not like it
The stories are, as you would expect, fascinating and harrowing. The writing on the other hand is unforgivably juvenile. These women deserved better. But let's think for a moment about the type of person who would be allowed to become a journalist for state media in a repressive dictatorship. Logically, their selection would have little to do with any investigative talent. Instead, it would hinge on being the type of conformist able to swallow and then parrot propaganda without any intellectual ...more
Sep 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
My long-held belief that the roots of extreme sexual repression can be traced to Judea-Christian influences has unraveled completely in the first 10 pages of this book. In George Orwell's 1984 it was obvious that his dsytopia was taken directly from Soviet Russia, but I never understood where Orwell was getting his images of sexual repression and taboos against romantic love. Wherever it came from it was also present in China.

The stories of Chinese women collected in this book will break your he
Oct 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, real-women, china
A collection of different true stories from different women, this book is written with the aim of bringing lost voices of Chinese women to the world. In spite of the emancipation of women due to communism, and in spite of the fact that most Chinese women work in positions equal to that of men, there still exists an enormous gender bias in Chinese society.

This book explores the stories of women during the Cultural Revolution. I had no idea it was so bad! There are many stories of women being sol
Jan 29, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
While the stories exemplifying the plight of women in China are interesting, as is the insight into what it means to be a journalist in China, I ultimately found the book a little annoying. The author is a participant in many of the stories, and often she is a heroic participant. The story featuring the author as the object of a mentally disturbed lesbian's romantic obsession bordered on ridiculous. The author seemed to "explain" the woman's lesbianism by reference to her traumatized childhood, ...more
Feb 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
37% -- Sad stories. Well -written though.

2/3 of the way through. Beautiful. I love memoirs and this is very unique because she retells the stories of real people...real women who called her line when she hosted her radio show years ago.

The Women of Shouting Hill - wow.
An artless collection of very unhappy stories, which could easily challenge both George R.R. Martin or de Sade for shock value.

The Good Women of China: Hidden Voices is in many ways reminiscent of Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China : the first-person female narrator, the overlapping cultural settings, the focus on the life of Chinese women, the videogame subtitle.

Easily comparable - not for the best reasons.

Works of an autobiographical nature walk a fine line between fiction and non-fictio
May 19, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was good. Such sad stories though.
Brian Griffith
Dec 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
It's amazing how public radio can allow private issues to be discussed anonymously. Xinran has tapped a vein, and the story she unleashes is huge. A hundred things considered too painful or shameful to discuss with family or neighbors come out in the open. Radio Show host Xinran shares a relatively few of the most moving and thought-provoking stories, some of them will probably reduce you to tears. But with all the pain, you have to comes away with deeper respect for these women's strength. Thes ...more
Missy J
If I could, I would give this book 4.5*!

Xinran is a Chinese journalist, who left China in 1997 in order to publish this book. After reading this book, I can understand why. "The Good Women of China" contains 15 stories, among them "The Guomindang General's Daughter," "The Woman Whose Father Does Not Know Her," "The Fashionable Woman" and "The Women of Shouting Hill" (my favorite stories), which tell of unimaginable sufferings and abuses in the hands of husbands, fathers, strangers and government
Maja  - BibliophiliaDK ✨
*Popsugar Reading Challenge 2018*
**A book by an author of a different ethnicity than you**

I have a mission - to create a world of book lovers. Will you help me?
Jan 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I cannot even begin to imagine life in Revolutionary China -- Xinran has given a voice to women who have.
♥ Ashleigh ♥  contrary to popular belief i'm not actually mad!
I feel scrubbed raw from the inside-out. This is a mesmerising, horrendous heart-tearing read, but I'm glad i came across this book.
It's hard to imagine the short stories and lives described in this book. I'm well aware of the fact that there's injustices in this world. I live in a country we're speaking of this sort of thing is taboo, we hide the astonishing acts of crime from recent pasts and our histories from our children, it's not something taught through education, the only reason i know l
Gisela Hafezparast
Nov 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Although this book is in essence a historical depiction of China since Mao came to power, it is a very readable book. Xinran has lived, suffered, survived and prospered in this period. Her story is one of the stories she tells honestly (although there are many questions remaining) in what must have been in every sense revolutionary radio program in China of its time and to be honest, would probably still be anywhere else. I once heard Jenny Murray talk about the scathing, patronizing and revolti ...more
Oct 27, 2012 added it
No rating.
I know, I know. "What? No rating?"

But, this is a biography. In this book are true stories of women's lives. How can I rate someone's life? Especially when it is filled with pain and trauma? The answer is simple. I cannot.

I did not enjoy this book much. The translation was poor and the narrator came across as frightfully naive. Those aren't really the main reasons though. Despite them, I couldn't put the book down. I was engrossed. I simply did not like this book because of how dark
Astrid Reza
Aug 21, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-book-shelf
The "good women" in China, in Xin Ran stories, are not women that view as "good women" in the Chinese society. I had to do some applause for Xin Ran and those women who had shared their stories. It's wonderful and excruciating. I had never found stories as tragic as their stories. Life is just hard, but hey, they move on. They keep on living, even if it only in their own dreams. Their imagination that cannot held back by anyone. Not the government, not the society, not even the people who love t ...more
Стефан Русинов
Devastating stories from the dark and distant corners of Chinese society, which would never have been told, had it not been for Xinran's journalistic insight and courage. It's one of these cases when I feel that fiction is seldom as striking, vivid, scary, powerful and heart-breaking as reality.

The only trouble I had with Xinran's writing was that at times it felt like she is trying too hard to invoke sentiments, in fact causing the opposite effect and really discrediting her own narrative, lik
Jun 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
In 1989, what originally started as an evening radio show eventually turned into a platform for women to call in and share their stories of what it was like being a woman in China. The host of the radio show, Xue Xinran, later documented these stories and turned it into a book, "The Good Women of China." Because these stories covered sensitive issues such as infanticide, forced marriage, political imprisonment, sexual assault, abuse, etc., Xinran had to leave China and publish the book in the UK ...more
Alex Murphy
Feb 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This took me so long to read because every time I picked it up it just broke my heart. I was brought to tears by almost every story. Must read 😩🙌🏼
Crina Apostol
Aug 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of the best and saddest books I’ve ever read. Her time with the tribe in the west was heartbreaking, a raw account of her experience of communism in China
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Xue Xinran, who usually writes as simply "Xinran", was a radio broadcaster in China before moving to Great Britain and beginning to publish books. She currently writes as a columnist. ...more

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