Painting the Peasants Into the Portrait of China’s Economic Boom – Joseph Kahn

From the New York Times:

Like many Chinese intellectuals during the recent economic boom, Chen Guidi and Wu Chuntao, a husband-and-wife team of writers, mostly ignored their ancestral homes in the countryside. No one, they described themselves as thinking, wants to read about peasants in the era of skyscrapers and designer bags.

Happily for themselves and for China, they were wrong. Ms. Wu spent time in her family’s home village after she gave birth to her son in 2000. The stories she heard from neighbors there became the seedlings of the groundbreaking literary study “An Investigation of the Chinese Peasantry,” which she and Mr. Chen wrote in 2003.

Their book, written in part-novelistic, part-journalistic style popular among an elder generation of social critics in China, is now available in a faithful if infelicitous translation. Entitled “Will the Boat Sink the Water?,” it seems unlikely to provoke abroad the same mix of embarrassment, guilt, outrage and denial that it did at home. But it delves deeply into the rural conundrum that continues to bedevil China’s Communist Party leaders. [Full Text]

See also the Chinese version of digital book “An Investigation of the Chinese Peasantry”

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