When it comes to tales of life under communism, narratives of soul-killing repression, the most-read and most-heard ones deal with experiences in the former Soviet Union. From Arthur Koestler’s fictional Darkness at Noon and Solzhenitsyn’s A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, to news stories of the repression of scientists like Andrei Sakharov and over-the-top Hollywood treatments in the 1980s, we’re familiar with that genre.
From China, however, we’ve heard far less. Sire, we have a picture of pre-war China in Pearl S. Buck’s The Good Earth. And we have Bertolucci’s evocative treatment in the movie The Last Emperor. But these are views from the outside. Where is the view from the inside? Where is a Chinese writer to stand with Solzhenitsyn and Pasternak?
For your consideration, I’d like to suggest Kang Zhengguo’s autobiographical Confessions: An Innocent Life in Communist China as a strong contender.
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