Wild Swans Author Jung Chang: 2013 Hong Kong Book Fair Writers Series



you became I wouldn't say overnight but almost overnight a formidable figure with wild Swan your book while Swan has so millions and millions of copies have been translated into many languages and that really defined your stature as a writer we were surprised when it became so successful you know when it first came out I didn't I wasn't thinking about whether this book was going to be successful or not and the reason was that I wrote the book as a result of my mother coming to London to stay with me in 1988 there was 10 years after I came to Britain and l'union for the first time my mother told me the stories of her life and the stories of my grandmother and once she started she couldn't stop she stayed with me for six months and she talked every day and she left me 60 hours of tape recordings and that how I started and when the book was finished when I was beginning to worry about but they would be a success and my mother wrote and said the book might not be a success and people might not pay attention to it but I was not too worried because she could feel that writing the book had brought us closer together you managed and capsulate a very closely knitted period of China that encapsulated the Imperial China the Mao era and of course afterwards you were actually writing it as Tiananmen Square unfolded did you feel you had to change anything actually I was in China when gen'l'men was building up in 1989 I was in China traveling in Beijing actually and other places and do of course research about swans I you know from my point of view I was just writing a book about the history of my family about the fate of these three women my grandmother my mother and myself but of course we can't escape politics in China and the history of China was always in the back of my mind I was aware that I was also at the same time writing about the history of China in 20th century but how about Mao that's as political as you can get now what gave you the idea initially of writing this monster biography the thing is after Wild Swans was published and I was beginning to think about writing another book Mao was obviously the office' subject and he dominated my early life I saw him turning the lives of a quarter of the world's population upside down and yet I felt the world knew astonishingly little about him and I wanted to find out more about him and that's how I started writing you know John I wrote the book with John my hospital it took us 12 years yes but those were the most riveting years of my life because we caught a window of opening of opportunity in the 1990s the Russian archives are opened we're open and a lot of them have been closed and and that was an absolute to treasure 12 because Russia as you know is practically on every page of our Marburg Rafi and then the in China I managed to get a lot of documents and some archives were open and also a lot of Mao's contemporaries were still alive so we interviewed that you know Mouse family relatives friends colleagues and with god widows of colleagues the staff serving mal and also mouse friends as em too going back to 1918 and one one particular person was the first communist party member that Mao introduced into the party so they went really way back they were so helpful and most of them spoke for the first time and they were it was as though they were waiting for somebody to come and ask them questions where you riveted because you had this window of opportunity or will you riveted by the things you heard and found I think both and we were riveted because we got to see so many historical figures we interviewed many presidents you know prime ministers foreign ministers heads of communist party communist parties a Maoist parties and not to mention these figures I talked about in China when you finished the book and that you published it obviously with a silent relieved and so forth were you also happy with its reception we had wonderful reviews in the sort of mainstream press we were also attacked by a lot of China academics and my view is I think a lot of them got interested in China in the 1960s and they were enamored with the Cultural Revolution and with Mao and they didn't want to see their kind of lifelong illusion being shattered and of course there was a lot of jealousy you know we discovered all these things they didn't know I mean you know oh that's you must regard Hong Kong as a very special place as an author who is critical about certain aspects of China that Chinese on the mainland might fear either jealous about or are prejudiced yes I mean Chinese tourists now go to Hong Kong and Taiwan to buy banned book you know how Chinese have some many many copies many have gone into China and have created them such an impact I mean it's absolutely riveting on the Chinese web and the people have picked up a lot of things that we were the first to say I mean if example the the reason of for the famine for nearly around 40 million deaths between 1958 and 1960 one and the reason had never been explained we've until if I say us because Mao was exporting food to Russia and to Eastern Europe to buy a whole range of military factory industries and nuclear technology and equipment and the missiles and so on and he exported the food to pay for these purchases and that pointer has been picked up by so many you know people in China so your advice to any aspiring Barack powder face do your homework because ultimately it is their only the homework that would sustain the veracity and the popularity of your work yes David I think do your homework particularly go to primary sources have you ever thought of doing a fiction facts is stranger than fiction yes definitely definitely and also I get enormous and pleasure to get to the bottom of truth well the Hong Kong fair forum will have to bound refers I mean you of course with while Swan Mao and then she she and William Shawcross on on his subjects and then we have a novelist so we hope to balance things out but we are looking enormous ly looking forward enormous Lee thank you I'm really looking forward to it thank you you

15 thoughts on “Wild Swans Author Jung Chang: 2013 Hong Kong Book Fair Writers Series

  1. I just finished this book. It is amazing. I was most amazed at how little I knew about China and the Communist revolution and everything. So interesting and enlightening! Such a brave family!

  2. I´ve just finished WILD SWANS .Your learn about XX century China´s history in a captivating way.Absolutely ADVICEBLE.

  3. ..Xue Zhi-heng.."In almost no time he had amassed a fortune, and he designed and built for himself an eighty-one-room mansion at Lulong."  I wonder HOW he "amassed" his fortunes.. in almost no time"?

  4. What a magnificent woman – I am starting Wild Swans now and I have Cixi on hold. It is a sad fact that a very small percentage of Americans read. 

  5. This twit might have at least given this masterpiece in literature its correct title, and you too Donnabelle Abidan whoever you are, the title is Wild SWANS, there are three of them not just one. The whole point is that it tells the story of THREE generations. Have at least the sensitivity and respect to know why the book was given its title and the valuable historical information it has conveyed to so many of us. One wild swan does not three generations make and respect starts with getting the name right.

  6. swild swan is very impressive book. Chinese who lived in the era mentioned in the book suffered too much… 

  7. Can you help me to get a Chinese translation of my book @the Bridge of Perfect Wisdom 'I find the Bridge of Perfect Wisdom strikingly truthful. Rupa’s insights into the psychology of the protagonists of this shameful event in China’s history exonerate, to a large extent, the behaviour of the brainwashed youngsters of the time. In her penetrating vision she stands out even among the Chinese authors, mostly women, from the relatively recent plethora of their personal experience but still short on the psychological depth that Rupa is able to convey. Very enjoyable are the charming minutiae of everyday life in the Chinese modest homes. 

  8. My mouth is still open,can't find the right words about the book.She's brave and more and more…Deep respect to you Jung Chang and to your family!!!Please Take care and enjoy your life forever!Greeting from all of Hungarian!

  9. I tried to find it in HongKong but only English versions I could find.
    Never tried in Taiwan.
    Anyone who knows which publisher to contact, please let me know.

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