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Wuhan Diary: Dispatches from the Original Epicenter

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  676 ratings  ·  154 reviews

On January 25, 2020, after the central government imposed a lockdown in Wuhan, acclaimed Chinese writer Fang Fang began publishing on online diary. In the days and weeks that followed, Fang Fang's nightly postings gave voice to the fe
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published August 18th 2020 by HarperVia (first published May 15th 2020)
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Average rating 3.57  · 
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Petra-X Off having adventures
Finished! The book was exactly what it said, a diary posted online every day (posts removed by the ultra-leftists - see below, when they could). Fang Fang is a major literary figure in China and she has a very large following for whom her posts were perhaps the only true despatches on the coronavirus situation. The only information that was not tainted with having to please the Party official above the reporter, and so on up the chain.

The afterword by the translator, Michael Berry would have bee
Erica Hu
Apr 22, 2020 rated it liked it
The title speaks for itself –– a diary.
To those who lash out on this book and denouncing it for being biased, read it like you read a diary. A diary is a momento, a piece of oral history. You don’t read Voices from Chernobyl and expect to understand a comprehensive, objective, deductive research paper with all facts about the nuclear disaster. You read a diary to hear a voice, to learn about perspectives not fit for traditional journalism. Fang Fang’s diary is one of the tiny puzzles that make
May 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
50th book for 2020.

Although somewhat repetitive, an excellent resource for both understanding day-to-day life in Wuhan under lockdown, as well as the Chinese government's response.

Note: Many negative reviews on Goodreads are a result of a concerted effort by Chinese government trolls, which should make you want to read this even more.

Jun 28, 2020 rated it liked it
But there is nothing we can do. Actually, there is nothing anyone can do. Our only choice is to grin and bear it. Even though it is getting to the point that most of the patients can’t bear it anymore, nor can their families. But if you don’t bear it, what else is there you can do? I once wrote somewhere that “one speck of dust from an entire era may not seem like much, but when it falls on your head it’s like a mountain crashing on you.” The first time I wrote those words, I don’t think I fully ...more
May 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I don’t know about you, but all these 1 star reviews just make me want to read it more. Preordering now.
Night Owl
Apr 10, 2020 rated it did not like it
A diary was written by a CCP high official retiree who quarantined in the bedroom for more than two months, based on highly repeated catchphrases like “I heard from a doctor friend”, "one of my friends texted me that", "a journalist friend secretly told me"... It's fine if it were posted in the Whatapp Group chat for gossip juice, but a book happened in such short notice with ready-to-read translated English and Germany editions? Let alone certain rumors got fact-checked by netizens in China bef ...more
Sep 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Valuable resource of a first hand account. Not a scandalous read to Western standards, any critiques Fang makes are reasoned and polite. I seemed to have lost all my notes, but the everyday ups and downs as time and the virus spread progressed I could relate to and felt that in many ways I mirrored Fang.
We have all been traumatized by this in different ways; looking back, none of us feel lucky--we just feel like survivors.
Luna Qiu
May 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
First thing first: if you are only reading this book for the sake of getting more dirt on the CCP, then you are coming to the wrong place. Granted, this book is biased, but this is because the book is written from the perspective of an average Wuhan citizen who witnessed the entirety of the Chinese government's dealing from her humble perspective, plus a few interviews that she has done with some medical authorities. She is not a professional reporter, nor does she have access to all inside info ...more
Cong Han
May 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
It's a shame and sad that Fang Fang couldn't publish the Chinese version. ...more
Jun 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was not sure that I would like this. It is one of many related books being produced in near real time during the course of the pandemic and the hype that went with the announcement of its translation made me wonder whether it would be worthwhile on its own merits. My worries were groundless and I heartily enjoyed the book.

First, lets be clear on what this is and it is not. This is not a specialized study or tract on the initial ravages of the novel coronavirus in Wuhan. The author is a superb
Jun 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2020
This book started life as an online diary kept by Chinese writer Fang Fang throughout the Covid-19 lockdown imposed on Wuhan beginning in late January 2020. Chronicling life on the ground at the heart of the outbreak that has now spread around the world, she writes on everything from the difficulties of everyday routines such as shopping amid shortages, the fear and uncertainty in the face of a new disease about which little was known and less shared with the public, the spread of information an ...more
Ning Gu
Apr 08, 2020 rated it did not like it
the book is about a lie in wuhan, its author FangFang combines her friends'news(not real) and the suspicion of the GOV, and builds the lie in wuhan. So if read the book, readers should know what you want to know in wuhan, if the reality, please read the newspapers and choose the fair self-media. In my eyes , the book reflects the some OUT-OF-TIMEs in china is lack of understanding about the reality, and distort the truth. And have to say that the literarary world in china looks a bit depraved, j ...more
Sep 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
First person account of the Wuhan lockdown by a celebrated Chinese novelist living there. Don't expect anything fully comprehensive - it felt more like a daily chat show, covering both day to day matters in her life and her take on what she heard in the news, with surprisingly scathing criticism of government response. I don't feel like social media updates always translate so well into book form - she frequently references responses to her posts elsewhere online and viral news stories - and it' ...more
Apr 08, 2020 rated it liked it
It's unfair to describe such a biased situation in Wuhan. There were some real stories, but not all complete. The author has just written what she wants to write. There were more good things happened there-a little girl recovering from surfing the coronavirus said she thanked the all medical workers for Wuhan people; the nurses led patients dance to cheer them up… I hope there will be something comprehensive to tell the World what had happen in Wuhan and how Chinese government dealt with the ene ...more
Peter Tillman
Good review of Fang Fang's book by Dwight Garner, my wife's fave NYT reviewer:
"This is an important and dignified book that nonetheless, in this adept translation by Michael Barry, has its share of dead space and repetition. “Wuhan Diary” would have been twice as good at half the length. It’s a bit easier to praise, as Tom Wolfe said of the William Shawn-era New Yorker, than it is to read. Still, the urgency of this account is impossible to deny.

Esther King
Aug 03, 2020 rated it it was ok
I found this to be a read which teeters awkwardly between being a piece of what is essentially living history and being a hurried translation of a somewhat nationalistic diary with a lot of bias. It’s not an easy book to define- but it’s also not one that’s particularly remarkable. I was left hanging on, waiting for more- not so much regarding government criticism, but regarding anything.

We don’t hear much of the author’s family, nor the thoughts and feelings of people during isolation. Some sto
Jul 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
While the space for cross-border Chinese-US citizen movements looks incredibly slim, Fang Fang's diary lays out themes for what could be a common platform:

- Accountability from leaders
- Collective mourning for the catastrophe of preventable deaths + recognition of collective trauma
- Resisting the use of nationalism as a distracting tactic (particularly online inflammation)

Recommend starting with a jump to the March 10 entry (p.213) where Fang Fang explains the motivation for the diary, describin
Katie Wu
Sep 05, 2020 rated it liked it
A raw and brave account of the city of Wuhan's 76 day lockdown from January to March 2020. This was humbling and extremely difficult to read. Originally published on Chinese social media platforms like Wechat and Weibo in installments at the end of each day, Fang Fang's diary reached readership in the millions as she emerged as a voice among residents struggling to manage the boredom and terror of the age of the coronavirus. I appreciated the generosity with which she shares her anxiety and logs ...more
May 24, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: emmm
Have read the whole thing in Fangfang's original language (Chinese) because "oh it is such an amazing story" media's been talking about and I happened to be able to read Chinese as one of my chosen languages to study.

Well, it's her freedom to write what she wants, but she might as well need to do some fact-checking before she decides to write this supposedly informative piece and publish to Western audiences, who have no idea what's going on. Her words would be taken as gospel truth outside of
Aug 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wuhan Diary is 60 posts by a Chinese author named Fang Fang about her experiences related to the COVID outbreak in the City of Wuhan (on Hubei Province on the Yangtze River).

It has several characteristics that are interesting. First, since I do not read Chinese, I suspect the translator, Michael Berry, is either very skilled or she is an elegant writer (I think probably both!). Berry says he did about 5000 words a day in translation yet the rhythm of the language is beautiful. The dispatches giv
May 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was a very raw and heart wrenching account of life in Wuhan during the recent lock down to contain the Covid-19 virus. Fang Fang is beyond courageous when she cries out for justice: “as a Wuhan citizen who has been quarantined here for two months, as someone who has personally experienced and witnessed this tragedy that befell Wuhan, we have a responsibility and a duty to seek justice for those wronged souls. Whoever made mistakes and whoever is responsible, those are the people who should ...more
May 20, 2020 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Is it just me, or do all the 1 star reviews with nearly identical language make you want to read this more? It does me. I see you CCP apologists.
Jun 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a genre of books that is likely to catch on considering the times we live in. But it was interesting to read the daily travails of an elderly writer in China during the 60 days of quarantine imposed in Wuhan. Lots of insights about life in China, what with the censorship and the constant state of vigilance.
Kalisha Buckhanon
May 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Brave, outstanding, non-conscientious, salvaging. Wuhan Diary will be studied for its reflection of insurgent life energy and documentation of a human mind in flux in the ranks of Iris Murdoch's Jackson's Dilemma, Joan Didion's Year of Magical Thinking and Sonali Deraniyagala's Wave. ...more
Carolyn Klassen
Wuhan Diary by Fang Fang was a glimpse into the beginning of our new world. This is a first-hand account of the disbelief and uncertainty of the early days of COVID-19. This is a diary from one of China's most beloved writers though it's the first from her that I've ever read. Spanning about three months, Fang writes about the public, medical, and governmental reactions and response to the coronavirus and the phases of the lockdown that happened in the Chinese province where she has lived for de ...more
Zoë S. Roy
Nov 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read Fang Fang’s daily writing during Wuhan’s lockdown. Because of Michael Berry’s excellent translation, Wuhan Diary: Dispatches from a Quarantined City has reached readers in English. Fang Fang has been a novelist for over three decades in China. She lives in Wuhan where Covid-19 started. During Wuhan’s lockdown, the author began to write what she felt and knew about the Covid situation in Wuhan and her concern about the people. She started on Jan. 25 and posted her writing online, one piece ...more
Sep 03, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: id
I owe a serious debt of gratitude to Prof. Berry, without whose goodwill and desire to help, this account and record simply would be withheld from the world’s eyes, writ large. The concluding last pages really moved me. Thank you for what must have been a very nuanced translation, especially that this was a woman’s journal entries.

Feel so fortunate to have had a firsthand testimonial of the “inside”, before the world was awakened to a very “dark night of the soul”. Fang fang is a hero, for she
Jun 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
It is a very relevant book to read in these times. It talks about how the daily happenings of the lockdown period when the coronavirus unfolded in Wuhan.

The author (Fang Fang) of the book started writing dairies on daily happenings. Soon, she gathered a massive reader base and this book is the English translation of the diaries, which were originally published in Chinese.

Fang Fang became more than anyone else, a voice which people could look to for an honest appraisal of what was happening every
Aug 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
It being China, a raised eyebrow is required before reading any account of anything important there. This is not a country known for freedom of speech and the press and is known for proactively seeking to curtail both. I was not familiar with Fang Fang so I did a little research before reading to ensure I wasn’t dealing with a government shill. Fortunately, it seemed clear she was anti-censorship and advocated transparency and asked China to stop censoring internet accounts.

In the book, Fang Fa
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Fang Fang graduated from the Department of Chinese Language and Literature, Wuhan University in 1982. She has published nearly seventy novels, novellas and essay collections. Many of her novels and novellas were published overseas in English, French, Japanese, Italian, Portuguese, Korean and other languages. Her representative works include the novels Chronicle of Wuni Lake and Water under the Tim ...more

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