Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A good read for sleepless souls

Book cover picture from Ming's hompage

I just finished reading the book “Rött Land, Röd Jord” by Ming Wang-Sonnerup. The English title of the book is “Red Land, Red Soil” (although I am not sure if the English translation of the book is out yet? I cannot find it on a lot of book sites?)

The book was published in 2008 by publisher Bra böcker förlag in Sweden, and is a biography of Ming's own and her family's experiences since the Communists took over the central power in mainland China. I’m one of those who struggled my way through “Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China” by Jung Chang, and I found Wang-Sonnerup’s book to be much better.

Anyways, I doubt this book will ever be available in China, but for those of you not living here it might be an interesting read. If it eventually gets translated that is (just checked Amazon and they don’t have it). Until then it will be a privilege for Swedish speakers only.


flyingfish said...

Thanks for the tip!

Anonymous said...

Typical western book on China. Only report negative things to make themselvs feel better. Sorry to say this but this is true.


Anonymous said...

I'll be looking for that book when it comes out in English. But she could really use a spell-check on her website. Having so many misspelled words diminishes the value of not only her book but her credibility as well.

Jonna Wibelius said...

flyingfish -anytime. I think u would like this one.

Jiang -I don't get you. It is almost as if you don't read my blog posts before you comment. This book is written by a CHINESE woman who was born the same year as Mao Zedong came to power in China. The book is about her growing up in China. There is not one single western person involved in it because, oh yeah, that's right, at that time, China was completely closed to the outside world. Don't throw judgement around when you don't even know what you are talking about. This book is a Chinese woman's biography.

(the reason why her surname carries a western name is because 1993 she left China and she married a Swede later on).

How could a foreigner write about what it was like to grow up in China during the culture revolution? It would be like a guessing game.

Anonymous -yeah, I agree, her website made me a bit disappointed as well. Especially when the book is so well written. I bet she's gotten a lot of help from the publishing house with the book. They should help her with her homepage as well.

Anonymous said...

I see, it is her bio.

Jiang. :)

Jess said...

Thanks for the recommendation! If it isn't out in English yet I hope it comes out soon.

My two favorite books on China are:

Watertown by Peter Hessler

Heavy Wings by Zhang Jie

I know you can buy Watertown in China, but I'm not so sure about Heavy Wings.

George said...

to be honest, i much prefer Watertown by Peter Hessler , than Joan Chang's Wild Swans, it's so bitter and the writing's so poor, also the emotions she showed there was so cheap and simple. i have to say that Western media does have a tendency to pick up this kind of books, after reading few of them, it becomes really boring.

try China Road written by Rob Gifford, and The Dream of the Red Chamber translated by David Hawkes is quite fun to read

马麟 said...

To say the truth, Jonna, I also feel western people know very less about China, and most have biased view points. Like last time in malmö, a kid called me chink and threw me f words for no reason. I guess that's the family influence.
Here people often ask us: Do you use rice boiler in China?/ Can you go on street without ID?/ Have you seen couch before? etc.
Well, you travel both places, you know the difference.

Anonymous said...

马麟 you are right. Sometimes I get upset about that too. Sorry Jonna I did not read the entire post and commented.

Jiang. :)

Jonna Wibelius said...

Jess and George -great u guys, thanks for the tips. I am a total book worm! Should do a book post at least once a week I realized. To share tips about good books! Right now I'm reading a book about North Koreas modern history, by Paul French. Those books you guys recommended will def be on my Xmas wish list! :) Thanks!

马麟 -yeah I can understand that. That's why I think it is SO important the more books like Ming wang's get to the market. U know what, I emailed her some days ago just to tell her how much I appreciated her book and how much it taught me about China's modern history and how it made me understand Chinese people better.. She replied almost straight away and told me she'd written the book while tears had been running from her eyes and that she felt these sort of stories must be told. She said: "I'm so scared that our generation is going to pass away and no one knows about what really happened in China at that time". And I totally agree with her. China is more than the new China we see today when we come to visit it as tourists. I can understand your frustration that people don't know so much about the country, but let's be honest here... how much did you know about Sweden before you decided to go there to study? I know that China is coming strongly on the international market but that doesn't mean it is a country that interest everyone. A lot of my friends know nothing about China. They are not interested in Asia, and especially not China... It is just how it is. All places don't appeal to all people. And I think the fact that China was closed to the outside world for such a long time has made it harder for a lot of people to keep up about what's been going on over there. Not pointing fingers at anyone. Just pointing out what might be the reason to people's lack of knowledge.

Anonymous said...

Jonna you are right. Many people in Europe know little about my country and many people in my country knows very little about Europe. Many Chinese think the Europeans as White people, that they all behave like the actors in Hollywood movies, but this is very wrong. I live in the United States and I can tell you that average Americans are so different from the movies let along the Europeans.

I think many Europeans are such as the Swedes are not interested in China is because they get their impression of China from US media which is very negative. Also many Chinese in China are not interested in many European countries because they think that Europe is still backward compare to the US which is wrong.


I.S said...

I think what 马麟 is saying is that most westerners have a biased view about China from their local media. Being ignorant is one thing, but being misinformed can be a lot worse.

China has come a long way and still has a long way to go (especially in terms of human rights, etc.) but rather than pointing out the progress, foreign media often points out the negative (as if they are jealous of their rapid progress.)

It takes someone well traveled (such as yourself) to know what really is going on.

Jonna Wibelius said...

Jiang -I would say that Swedes read Swedish media, not US media, and Swedish media is quite biased (like any media) but not in the same way as US media.I wouldn't say there's a majority of negative reporting when it comes to writing about China. It's quite fair. One of the most famous Swedish correspondents in China is half Chinese.

As for why people aren't interested in China... you have to be real here. All people are not interested in China. It's not because of any particular reason, some people simply don't think it's anything special... some people prefer rice and some like potatoes, and that's just it. The whole world doesn't evolve around one place. Most of my friends prefer reading about France or Spain that the US or China...

I.S -I agree that western media (especially US) likes to throw trash on China... I think it is hard for a lot of western countries to watch China "rise" when they are doing it such different way than we are used to... Then there are things like the fact that China's still a communist country, human rights issue, and so on... I wouldn't say I have a clear idea of what is going on here. There are some things I really love about China. But there are also things that I truly don't like... like the school system for instance, and how children are being spoiled and therefore don't know how to cook or do housework... (because they have to spend all that time studying...). I think it's going to be interesting to look at China in 20 years or so, when the younger generation is working full time. It'll be interesting to see how they handle it all. We'll just have to wait and see!

Chinese Traveler said...

Ha ha ha! Jonna, you are amazing! Any topic you write can get you into a heated discussion with some mindless myrmidons. Blind nationalism has made so many young Chinese today so damn stupid. I grew up in China during the Cultural Revolution era. I hated Mao and still do today. How could any sensible Chinese support a political entity that came up with policies leading to the deaths of 50 to 70 millions of its own people in the first 10 to 15 years of its reign?

If you are interested in modern Chinese history, here is a link to a biased American media (sarcasm intended) that talks about China's Song family. Some historians have said that conflicts of modern Chinese history are the conflicts of the Song sisters.

Majje and Affe said...

I am Ming's daughter! To the angry young ones, China is a huge country! There is a distinctive difference between China as a country and the Chinese communist party. What Ming had explained were how the red Stalinistic experiments have done to an old country and how a diminishble person like Ming suffered in the first 30 years during the communist rule, because of the communist dictatorship. It is heartbroken to see what CCP had done to our beloved Manchuria, where my mother and I have our roots. Mukdan (that is Shenyang in Han Chinese) has been transformed to an extremely polluted city with too many stalinistic buildings and communist statues.