on a book and the Nobel prize

I moved to a new corridor recently and I decided not to transfer the internet service. This is good. I can read a bit instead of surfing on the internet before going to bed.

This week I read a book highly recommended by a Swedish colleague, the Good Women of China by Xinran. This is the third time I heard of the author after coming to Sweden although I never heard of her when I was in China. In fact, according to this Chinese reading website, most of the Chinese readers got to know this book because it is recommended by their friends from the Western world.

The book is a collection of stories about Chinese women ranging from those in the Northwestern part who have never seen sanitary towels in their life to university students who exchange their bodies for money. The author collected these stories when she was working as a presenter in a radio station in China. I can see most of these stories are true, despite some literary distortion.  She started every story from a perspective that makes a Chinese like me a bit uneasy: “now I am free in an open society like UK. What a horrible life these women have been living in China!”

But I still think this is a good book to read. At least she is honest about the dark side of China’s society. Even if she writes in a way for winning Western readers, for her own interest, the criticism of the incumbent government is helpful.

Similarly, I think it is a good thing that Liu Xiaobo wins the Nobel prize for peace. I tended to identify Liu Xiaobo as an opportunist, considering his way of criticizing Li Zehou (李泽厚).  But a politician should not be criticized for being an opportunist. I was very disappointed when I met a few people in real life who earned their fame from the Democratic Movement. I realize I was disappointed because I expect them to be honest and caring for people’s interest. But it seems they are more interested in making more money.  Now I am not disappointed any more. We have to accept that politicians are as self-interested as us. Their grabbing hand can only be curbed by challenges, no matter from an opportunist or an honest person.

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