The 'Empress' of Chinese nonfiction | Bangkok Post: lifestyle

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The 'Empress' of Chinese nonfiction

Controversial author Jung Chang speaks about her latest book and its possible ban in mainland China

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For Chinese-born British author Jung Chang, having her books scanned and downloaded illegally is something that's very "encouraging". At least in China, that is, where two of her books, Wild Swans and Mao: The Unknown Story, are banned. Her latest book, Empress Dowager Cixi, a biography of a woman who unofficially controlled the China's Manchu Qing Dynasty for 47 years from 1861 until her death in 1908, is pending publication in the country, a situation for which she doesn't "hold up very high hopes". 

"I don't know," says Chang during a recent interview at the Singapore Writers Festival. "I keep my fingers crossed."

Chang remains elegant in her 60s _ it is difficult to guess what she has been through with her calm smile and constant laugh. At 14, she joined Mao's Red Guard, which she left shortly thereafter, finding it too violent. Her parents were Communist Party officials, although they later came to oppose its policies after the failures of the Great Leap Forward, an economic and social campaign headed by Mao. Their opposition subjected Chang's mother and father to severe treatment, imprisonment and eventually forced her family to leave their home.

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