In This Review

China Candid: The People on the People's Republic
China Candid: The People on the People's Republic
By Sang Ye. Translated and edited by Geremie R. Barmé with Miri
University of California Press, 2006, 363 pp

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.