Leading Chinese journalist Sang Ye follows his successful book Chinese Lives with this collection of absorbing interviews with twenty-six men, women, and children taking the reader into the complex realities of the People's Republic of China today. Through intimate conversations conducted over many years, China Candid provides an alternative history of the nation from its founding as a socialist state in 1949 up to the present. The voices of people who have lived underand often despitethe Communist Party's rule give a compelling account of life in the maelstrom of China's economic reformsreforms that are being pursued by a system that remains politically rigid and authoritarian. Artists, politicians, businessmen and -women, former Red Guards, migrant workers, prostitutes, teachers, computer geeks, hustlers, and other citizens of contemporary China all speak with frankness and candor about the realities of the burgeoning power of East Asia, the China that will host the 2008 Olympics. Some discuss the corrosive changes that have been wrought on the professional ethics and attitudes of men and women long nurtured by the socialist state. Others recall chilling encounters with the police, the law courts, labor camps, and the army. Providing unique insight into the minds and hearts of people who have firsthand experience of China's tumultuous history, this book adds invaluable depth and dimension to our understanding of this rapidly changing country.
This is an extraordinary collection of the observations, experiences, and thoughts of some 20 Chinese gathered by Sang Ye (and translated and edited by Barmé) through his technique of blending conversation and interviewing. The respondents came from various walks of life and different places in China, and the result is a book that goes into the lives and experiences of Chinese ranging from artists to businesspeople, former Red Guards to rural migrants, prostitutes to Olympic athletes. Sang Ye is a journalist skilled in describing personalities, and his interest is very much in the personal experiences of his informants; they are presented not as representative of their occupation or class, but as interesting individuals with rich stories to tell. But with the context being modern China, political considerations affect the lives of all the people with whom he had conversations. How the political aspect is managed differs from person to person: some go along with the party line; others distance themselves from the authorities or make local officials a part of their schemes. Together, the personal stories told in this collection open a window onto what life is really like for both the Mao and post-Mao generations of Chinese.