What does it mean to have grown up female in the Mao era? How can the remembered details of everyday life help shed light upon those turbulent times?
Some of Us is a collection of memoirs by nine Chinese women who grew up during the Mao era. All hail from urban backgrounds and all have obtained their Ph.D.s in the United States; thus, their memories are informed by intellectual training and insights that only distance can allow. Each of the chapters—arranged by the age of the author—is crafted by a writer who reflects back to that time in a more nuanced manner than has been possible for Western observers. The authors attend to gender in a way that male writers have barely noticed and reflect on their lives in the United States.
The issues explored here are as varied as these women’s lives: The burgeoning rebellion of a young girl in northeast China. A girl’s struggles to obtain for herself the education her parents inspired her to attain. An exploration of gender and identity as experienced by two sisters.
Some of Us offers insight into a place and time when life was much more complex than Westerners have allowed. These eloquent writings shatter our stereotypes of persecution, repression, victims, and victimizers. Together, these multi-faceted memoirs offer the reader new perspectives as they daringly explore difficult—and fascinating—issues.
XUEPING ZHONG is an associate professor of literature at Tufts University. She is the author of Masculinity Besieged?: Issues of Modernity and Male Subjectivity in Late Twentieth-Century Chinese Literature.
WANG ZHENG is an associate professor of womens studies at the University of Michigan. She is the author of Women in the Chinese Enlightenment: Oral and Textual Histories.
BAI DI is an assistant professor of Chinese at Iowa State University.