Thursday, April 27, 2006

Wild Swans

This is easily one of the best books i have ever come across. At first sight, this seems like a rather bulky novel with a really small print . When you start reading it, the language seems very simple and at times even amateurish. Constant references to people as "my grandmother", "my mother" etc seem quite irritating in the beginning and you'd wish that the author had stuck to third person narration and made things better..
But as the novel progresses, your thinking drastically changes. The simple language makes it easier to grasp all the facts presented in the book easily. There are numerous facts presented here and the author describes the life of the chinese people in detail.. their beliefs, their customs, their habits, their way of thinking, the political scenario etc etc.. i thought india was one of the very few countries with such a rich heritage and no other country could even get close to it..but china has it too..and i learnt all about it after reading just this one book! The complication of chinese names slowly dawns on you and you are really thankful for references to "my grandmother" etc just to avoid confusion. The length of the book soon becomes a pleasure and you can feel the sadness ebbing in you when you are nearing completion of this gripping tale.

The story is set in China and covers the life of three generations of a family. The grandmother, the mother and finally the daughter who is the author of the book. They are all women with a strong will power and determination and manage to outshine in the totally male dominated china of those years. The book eradicates all the misconceptions of Mao Zedong and Communist China. To an outsider not well versed with chinese politics, Mao is the saviour of the peasants and the supporter of the needy. He is the ideal leader of the poor who beleives in communism and equality of wealth and happiness.
But the book bring out the true tyrant nature of his. At times, he even seems dictatorial.. His thirst for power made him take china away from the path of development and the chinese suffered.
The suffering and the true nature of the scenario at that time has been beautifully brought out by Jung Chang. There are photographs of the family too and we can relate to them and their sorrows.It is a heart wrenching tale and a total eye opener.
Not only does it deal with the political scenario, it also brings out various other qualities of the chinese. There is immense concentration on thier culture, their moral values, their family traditions. It is a total whirlwind tour of China and in many ways, better than touring the land yourself..:)
A must read for all those who would love to have a peep into the world of the chinese and for those who would love to know about the true nature of Mao Zedong and Chinese communism.

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