For seven years, Xinran Xue hosted a daily radio phone-in programme for Radio Nanjing during which she discussed women's lives, and invited women to call in and talk about themselves. Broadcast between 10 and 12 at night, "Words on the Night Breeze" soon became famous all over China for its powerful, honest discussion of what it means to be a woman in today's China. It started in 1990, a time when China seemed to be opening up, both for the Chinese and for the world. Xinran's programme revealed aspects of women's lives that had never been talked about in public before. She felt as if she was opening a tiny window into a huge fortress whose inhabitants had never before communicated with the outside world. Soon she was receiving over 200 letters a day from women telling their stories. She realised that she knew far less than she had thought about what it means to be a Chinese woman and embarked on a journey of discovery to collect their stories. The stories presented in this collection tell of almost inconceivable suffering: rape, sexual abuse, the separation of parents from their children, the suppression of human emotion in order to survive the Communist regime.
And yet this book is about love - about how, despite cruelty, despite politics, the female urge to nurture and cherish remains.
Xinran was born in Beijing in 1958 and was a successful journalist and radio presenter in China. In 1997 she moved to London, where she began work on her seminal book about Chinese women's lives, The Good Women of China. Since then she has written a regular column for the Guardian; appeared frequently on radio and TV and has published the acclaimed Sky Burial; the novel Miss Chopsticks; the groundbreaking book of oral history China Witness; a book of her Guardian columns called What the Chinese Don't Eat and Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother, about mothers and their lost daughters. She lives in London but travels regularly to China.