Xinran Blog

Wo Juede Hen Teng –— I felt very painful!

Posted by Xinran on March 18, 2009

Wo Juede Hen Teng – I felt very painful!

This morning, my friend Tantan-Niang emailed me with a forward attachment – subject is ‘Do you know the most popular restaurant in Beijing?’ There are fifteen photos about this restaurant in the attachment.

Here is my reply to Tantan-Niang:

Yes, I have been there. The restaurant is called ‘Red Star’. It is for you to ‘experience The Culture Revolution as a fun’.

I was so shocked and painful by this ‘Culture Revolution fun’…my body was shaking when they shouted and repeated those killing slogans!!!

You would know why I felt like that, if you have read my book ‘The Good Women of China’, you would see what ‘The Culture Revolution’ means to my life.

After more than 40 years, I still couldn’t walk out from my painful memory of my ten years childhood during The Culture Revolution …

I can’t believe that my suffered childhood could be ”gamed” with such happiness!

Is it possible for anyone in this world to play War killings as a fun? How could someone play Jews were gassed in Auschwitz as a fun? Or, how could someone play Gaza children were killed in early this year as a fun?

I am sure I am not only the one lost by this fun…

No pain, no gain…what young Chinese could gain from this Culture Revolution if they can’t feel any pain from it?

What might be happened to a plant if it is cut off from its roots…? I think human is living in the same way as the plants…or any other lives…

Wei Shenme – Why?

  1. Michael Said,

    I met you very briefly last night in Chelmsford (I am a student of your friend Sui) at the Essex book festival. I hope you caught your train!

    Your speech was just wonderful: interesting, funny and moving. I am looking forward to reading the book very much.

    Also, it was great to meet Chen Yi (?) from Jiangsu province, I hope she will see come and see some more of Essex.

    Thank you so much, Michael.

  2. Xinran Said,

    Thanks to YOU, dear Michael!
    I hope my books cold bring some lights to the people who are still living in the darkness…
    It might not be BIG lights…but this tiny bright comes from my heart!
    Big regards to you.

  3. Andy Said,

    well,I am really unbelievable that your book (sky burial)
    is in one of the most important EXAM section。I mean year12 final EXAM。
    just one question wanna ask you that are you going to translate
    the 《sky burial》for assisting chinese kids more understanding your book?

  4. Xinran Said,

    Dear Andy
    Thank you for letting me know it…Yes, all of my writing is for building up a bridge between different people and Chinese…
    Because I a mother of a Chinese son. I hope my son could live in a peaceful world with the better understanding of others…
    May I know my book Sky Burial was in which country’s 12 year exam?
    Thanks for your help! All the best to your life.

  5. holly Said,

    Dear Xinran,

    I’m so glad to find your blog. I just finished your book “The Good Women of China” (Chinese version) this morning, very powerful stories… I’m not just moved by the personal accounts but also shocked!

    As someone who grew up in the peaceful 80s in colonial HK I have to admit that I know too little about what happened. We know about the interrogations, tortures, slogans, campaigns…etc. of the Cultural Revolution, but what women actually went through during that time was something I had NEVER heard of until I read your book. Shock is actually not strong enough to describe how I feel… That part of China’s past is not history yet, it’s wrong to let the dead bury the dead. That past should be addressed. I sincerely hope one day those women’s stories can be published in China and all those who suffered can be given the long-delayed justice they deserve.

    All the best to you and your son.

  6. Dianne Haist Said,

    Your book was beautifully written ‘dear kindred soul’ as the character Anne of Green Gables would call her dear friend. It was a birthday gift after my return from 4 months teacing writing in Wuhan University. My students took me to their hearts and I them. My Chinese contacts are truly inspirational people for their optimism, persistence, fidelity and for many other reasons. I look forward to reading your book on food as they are so besotted with their food and no wonder as so many have starved to death in the past.Your mother’s love to your son is fantastic. When I turned 64, I asked my son to write 64 things about why he loved me. I did the same for his 36 years. We only had one child too but now his wife and two daughters are so precious as they round out our family life. Keep being on love with life wherever you go and in whatever you write.

    Love Dianne

  7. Dianne Haist Said,

    Keep being IN love with life wherever you go and in whatever you write.

  8. yes Said,

    Hi Ms. Xinran,

    Your blog is very interesting and thoughtful! Your views on China’s past is interesting. Since you have written a book which take place in Tibet I wonder if you have read a new book by Woeser on the Cultural revolution in Tibet? If so, what do you think about the book?

    杀劫: Forbidden Memory: Tibet During the Cultural Revolution by Woeser (2006)

  9. Connie Said,

    Dear Xinran, After hearing your interview recently on the CBC I read China Witness, then Sky Burial and The Good Women of China. Thank you, thank you, for your powerfully sensitive and compassionate works. I am a 67 year old grandmother who has been deeply touched by not only your writing but by your deep care for the feelings of others. As a designer I have always been impressed and influenced by Chinese art and culture. Thank you for giving us a window into the lives of people of China during and after the most difficult Cultural Revolution. I carry them - and you - in my thoughts and prayers. Je t’embrace. With much love, Connie

  10. Bill Said,

    I came across and read your book The Good Women of
    China while working at Barnes and Noble. It was a pleasure to read the various stories of women during this period of time in China.
    I date a woman whose mother lived during this period, and her mother has never discussed her experiences, nor has her daughter ever asked.

  11. Fabio Porchat Said,

    Hi Xinran. I need to talk to you. I am from Brazil, and I heard that you would be here in July. I am a director and writter, and I wrotte a play based in Good women of China. and I want to show you this play when you came to Brazil Please, answer me. I have to talk to you. There are 5 women in my play and they are all crazy to talk to you too. Thanks, Fabio!

  12. linda Said,

    Dear Xinran,
    I know the shoking now after I read your book.
    bless you,

  13. Xinran Said,

    Thanks to you all!
    Yes, to 8.YES, I have read the book, Tibet During Culture Revolution…It made me think a lot because there were so many Tibetans involved. The real history has been simplified by ‘’ single colored history’’.
    Yes, to 11.Fabio Porchat, please contact my agent office, I am sure they would help you…I am looking forward to work with you if it would be possible.

  14. Elizabeth Said,

    Dear Xinran,

    I am not sure exactly what to say… I feel a bit as though I was thrown into China before I was ready for it, but the people here are amazing. I live in Shijiazhuang with my 4 children, 2 of which were born in China, and my husband.

    I don’t fully understand why people tell me their stories and I’m not exactly sure what to do with them after I have heard them because, after all, I’m still struggling with the language! (I’ve never formally studied Mandarin, I simply ask anyone and everyone how to say anything and everything I can think of. It’s a slow process.)

    There are so many stories which should not be forgotten, but so many of them are never even heard… They need to be heard, though, and they need to be listened to. Thank you for having the courage to tell those histories, those truths which prove that we are all human. It takes a strong soul to bear with so much unadulterated honesty.

    Even though I was born in a different land and have no visible traces of Chinese decent, China has become my home. Here, I have found family.

    The fact that someone could ever try to capitalize on the pain of the past angers me. I have seen this restaurant. It saddens me. The old woman on the sampan in Wuzhou, the man selling roasted sweet potatoes on New Years Eve in Beijing, my Gan Mama, all deserve better than that!

    Thank you for not cheapening the stories of peoples’ lives by twisting the past into something it is not meant to be. I sincerely hope that your voice and the voices of those in the tales you tell rings clearly for many, many years to come.

    With love,

  15. 马光明 or Robert McKenzie) Said,

    I am glad I found your blog … I can most definitely understand your angry reaction … it is an offensive thing to you, because you know the real story first hand … but to the younger generation, it is somehow not real, and that is why they are able to “make light of it” (I assume it was opened and it being run by people born after the CR ended) … that is why books such as yours are so important to Chinese: to tell them the truth, to tell them the stories that the “silent generation” has swallowed and are taking to their graves … most of the Chinese people I know, and I know more than most westerners, when asked about the hardships they endured dismiss the past … they don’t want to talk about it because they suffered too much and because talking about it can not change what happened in the past … it is part of the stoic nature of the Chinese people, and it gives the impression to the younger generations and to outsiders that it really wasn’t so bad
    … so I ask you to sit down and breathe, don’t let their ignorance hurt you in this way, and instead take it as affirmation that the writing you do in this area is vitally important … that the work you do has tremendous importance as we move toward the future.
    take care and stay well.
    … and by the way, thank you for writing Chinese Witness … I am almost finished and it is helping me to understand some of my friends better already, and specifically it is helping me to understand a Chinese woman about your age with whom I am developing a close working relationship … her father was sent away for to receive ‘education through labour’ for about 9 years, and it has obviously left a deep deep mark on her soul.
    next I will try to find TGWoC and read it (and also to find copies in putonghua to give to some of my female Chinese friends).

  16. Allie Said,

    Dear Xinran,

    I am blown away by your books. I read The Good Women of China and immediately found Miss Chopsticks and Sky Burial as well. Thank you for telling these stories. My husband and I are trying to learn Mandarin (we live in Canada) and teach it to our baby daughter as well. We so want to visit China one day. I hope to meet you one day. :)

    Thank you!


  17. Squid Said,

    Dear Xin Ran,

    I recently finished reading “The Good Women of China” (English version). I couldn’t get very far with it when I first started it because it was so painful. The second time, I was determined to read it through. It is truly shocking to hear what women endured during the Cultural Revolution.
    I am a British Born Chinese woman, born in the 1980’s. My parents hinted that awful things happened but shielded me from the truth, and at school (in the UK), we studied Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini - so I have been ignorant of Chinese history for long enough. As well as finding your book devastating (i shed a lot of tears during the reading), I was very moved by your courage and your determination and I am going to read your other books. I also like your photo - you look like my mum a bit. Thank you very much and I wish you and your son success and happiness.
    With love,
    A british born squid

  18. Marie-Louise Janssen Said,

    Dear Xinran,

    How can I thank you for your wonderful book, the Good women of China, which I have devoured this summer.
    It has inspired me enormously to continue my research on the living and working conditions of undocumented Chinese women in the Netherlands. Since a year I am collecting life stories of Chinese women who are in the detention centres. Sometimes they are staying here for months and months without seeing any lawyer, without being able to speak in their own language, and without knowing what is going to happen to them.. I listen to their stories and try to convince them to tell me more about their experiences. How do I convince them? By telling them the same as you did: you are a woman just like me and your life story is worth telling.
    Xinran, I would love to give them a copy of the book in Mandarin, but unfortunatly I can’t order them here in the Netherlands. is there a way that I could buy several copies of your book in Mandarin so that I can give it to the women? They have nothing to read and are longing to read and to be accompanied by the women of your book. The stories you have written are so powerful.. I show them the book and tell them about the lives of these women, but ofcourse it would be much better if they could read them by themselves.
    Hope hearing from you. And again, thanks a lot for these voices that have to be heard!

  19. Voong Said,

    Dear Xin Ran,

    I read your book Skyburial. At the end of the book, you mentioned that you have tried to get in touch with the subject of the story. I am curious whether you did manage to get in touch with her and if so, what has happen to her.

    Kind regards,

  20. Samantha Leese Said,

    Dear Xinran,

    How are you? I’m sorry to leave this as a comment on your blog instead of emailing you properly. I am a writer for Glass magazine ( It is a London based arts and culture quarterly distributed by Conde Nast.

    I am working on a piece about Chinese women writers and I would love for you to be included.

    I first read the Good Women of China some years ago, and remember being particularly struck by the story of the girl who kept a fly as a pet.

    Please let me know whether you would be willing to give an interview on your work and your views about women writers from China in general.

    I am based in Hong Kong, so we can arrange a time to speak on the phone or I can write you my questions if you would prefer. Please email me at the above address to let me know.

    I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you.

    All the best,


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