Zhiqing: Stories from China’s Special Generation presents the recollections of fourteen men and women who were “sent down” to the countryside during China’s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (1966–1976). Teenagers or young adults at the time, the authors left school to heed Mao’s call for China’s “educated youth” (zhiqing) to go to the poorest provinces and distant borders, where they worked with the local people in villages or on military farms and construction teams. From the Great Northern Wilderness to Hainan Island, their true-to-life stories illustrate the harsh realities of rural existence and Cultural Revolution politics while focusing on personal joys and miseries. While not meant as a political statement, these stories serve as a powerful testimony to the experience of an entire Chinese generation.
“It was my distinct pleasure to have served as in-house editor of Kang Xuepei’s In the Countryside, which was initially her masters of arts thesis at SHSU. It was hard to imagine the horrors that these Chinese youth had to go through during that period of Mao’s experiment in social engineering and more amazing to realize that most of them came through it all without intense bitterness toward those who thrust them into such perilous and uncomfortable circumstances. In this book you will find a sampling of the experiences of zhiqing from many perspectives written in strikingly fine prose.”—Paul Ruffin, director, Texas Review Press