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Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother: Stories of Loss and Loveby Xinran
Synopses & Reviews
Following her internationally bestselling book The Good Women of China, Xinran has written one of the most powerful accounts of the lives of Chinese women. Her searing stories of mothers who have been driven to abandon their daughters or give them up for adoption is a masterful and significant work of literary reportage and oral history.
Xinran has gained entrance to the most pained, secret chambers in the hearts of Chinese mothers — students, successful businesswomen, midwives, peasants — who have given up their daughters. Whether as a consequence of the single-child policy, destructive age-old traditions, or hideous economic necessity, these women had to give up their daughters for adoption; others even had to watch as their baby daughters were taken away at birth and drowned. Xinran beautifully portrays the “extra-birth guerrillas” who travel the roads and the railways, evading the system, trying to hold on to more than one baby; naïve young girl students who have made life-wrecking mistakes; the “pebble mother” on the banks of the Yangzte River still looking into the depths for her stolen daughter; peasant women rejected by their families because they can't produce a male heir; and Little Snow, the orphaned baby fostered by Xinran but confiscated by the state.
For parents of adopted Chinese children and for the children themselves, this is an indispensable, powerful, and intensely moving book. Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother is powered by love and by heartbreak and will stay with readers long after they have turned the final page.
"Xinran (Good Women of China) collects the heartbreaking stories of Chinese women forced to give up their baby girls because of the one-child-only policy or feudal traditions that prefer boys, in an oral history written for those abandoned daughters. Speaking with midwives, students, businesswomen, adoption workers, peasants, and 'extra-birth guerrilla troops' (people who live on the lam eluding the system so they can have more than one baby), Xinran is compassionate and remarkably adept at getting her interviewees to open up about their most painful memories: how some mothers were forced to put their babies up for adoption or abandon them at hospitals, orphanages, or on the street, and how they've seen newborns drowned or smothered at birth. She shows how outdated traditions, modern policies, and punishing poverty spur the abandonment of so many female infants, and an abnormally high suicide rate for women of childbearing age. This is a brutally honest book written for those relinquished children, so that they will know how much their birth mothers loved them and how — in the words of one mother who gave up her daughter — 'they paid for that love with an endless stream of bitter tears.' (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"[Xinran’s] program — and now this book — gave a voice to some of the poorest women in Chinese society, whose stories would otherwise never be heard....Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother is full of heart-rending tales. They are shocking, simply told and augmented with passages that provide information about matters like the one-child policy, the history of orphanages and Chinese adoption laws....A very powerful polemic." New York Times Book Review
"I'm a longtime admirer of Xinran's writing. She has a rare gift as both a compassionate listener and a mesmerizing storyteller. In reading her books, I always feel as if I am in a room, listening with Xinran, as strangers unveil the haunting details of their lives that grab my imagination and my heart." Amy Tan
"A heartbreaking examination of the reasons why Chinese women give up their girls for adoption." Kirkus
“The core of Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother is the individual stories of women who have lost their daughters. One would have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by them.” The Economist
“This is an extraordinary book told with generosity and warmth by a brilliant storyteller.” Financial Times
Internationally bestselling author Xinran’s searing stories of mothers who have abandoned or given their daughters up for adoption.
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