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Xujun Eberlein

by Susan Henderson on June 4, 2008

Today I’d like to introduce you to Xujun Eberlein, a tremendous writer and social commentator, who has just published her first book, Apologies Forthcoming. This collection of short stories features relationships that are complicated by China’s Cultural Revolution: lovers who can’t be together, a family that hides a child’s death from her grandmother, and children who have come to enjoy the thrill of brutality.

We’ll talk about these stories, this time in China’s history, as well as Xujun’s journey to publication. I hope you enjoy the interview and join the conversation!

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Where were you born?

Chongqing (also known as Chungking), China. During WWII it was China’s war-time capital; now it is China’s biggest city.

Tell me about Chongqing and what it was like from a child’s eyes – before you had a larger understanding of what was happening to China.

Curiously, in my childhood memory the dominate image of Chongqing – shared with many people throughout China – is from the cover of the novel Red Crag.

I was in the second grade and Red Crag was the first novel I ever read. It is about underground communists imprisoned in SACO (Sino-America Cooperative Organization) prisons, their suffering, heroics and sacrifice. Red Crag is a highly political book combining graphic torture scenes with an upbeat heroic theme, and, I have to say, the story was gripping to a young mind. In 1960s China, even for a child, there was no way to separate politics from life. Thus the image of a lone pine tree atop a red cliff was synonymous with Chongqing for me, even though there was nothing remotely like it where I lived. In retrospect, the novel is on the borderline between historic fiction and propaganda, and it played a big role in cultivating a generation of young idealists. The character Liu Huagu in the story “Men Don’t Apologize” is typical of those.

The stories in this collection all feature the Cultural Revolution.

I guess the motivation is both historical and personal. I would like to convey to the English reading audience my experiences, common experiences, which are not properly represented in the existing English literature on this period. Personally, my big sister’s death as a Red Guard at age 16 created in my heart a “Cultural Revolution complex.” In the collection, the story “Feathers,” though in third person, is actually a story about me dealing with her death.

What aspects of the Cultural Revolution are not represented in the existing literature?

The usual “victim literature” would show people suffering from the movement. But people, a really large number of people, were also at the heart of the movement. The distinction between victims and villains is very unclear and my stories show a broader range of behavior beyond suffering.

Could you define the Cultural Revolution for any of my readers who are unfamiliar with that period in China’s history?

It is very risky to even try to define such a big and complex thing in a few words, but let me introduce it in a nutshell: The Cultural Revolution was a mass movement launched by Mao Zedong. It began in the summer of 1966 and lasted for a decade, until Mao’s death in September 1976. During that period Mao purposely broke the state apparatus with the help of the masses, thus leading the entire country into chaos. Virtually everyone in China was affected. Students, middle school through university, became the Red Guards. Books were burned or seized, libraries sealed. Schools were closed for years, and there was practically no university for an entire decade.

With all the upheaval, as you can imagine, there was little productive work going on outside of the countryside where the farmers continued to work the land. “Inserts” were city youths from middle or high school sent to the countryside to work with and be reeducated by the “poor peasants.” This is the background of the story “Disciple of the Masses.”

You’ve really blurred the lines between victim and victimizer in your stories. Can you talk about how your characters subtly move from one to the other?

In “Disciple of the Masses,” a well intentioned girl takes food away from hungry farmers. In “Second Encounter,” two idealistic boys try to shoot one another only to meet decades later and wonder at their motive. In “Men Don’t Apologize,” an ex-Red Guard still does not apologize to his victim. A great deal of human tragedy results from the confluence of social trends leading to upheaval. In this setting the identification of villains is done by the victors. A Chinese adage, “The succeeded is titled the king, and the defeated is named the bandit,” profiles thousands of years of Chinese political history. As far as political conflicts are concerned, victims and victimizers can easily switch positions.

Fun things used to happen more often on the big street, like Red Guard demonstrations, faction fights, or truck parades exposing criminals and counterrevolutionaries, with arms tied high behind their backs and heavy name boards strapped around their necks. But lately the street has been quiet as well. The whole city has been quiet. There hasn’t been much to watch. I think this is because all the young people – secondary schoolgraduates like Wang Jian – have been “inserted” to the countryside. Like fallen leaves swept away by the autumn wind, they are gone. Without them the city is like an empty castle, kept only by the very young and the very old.
- “Watch the Thrill,” Apologies Forthcoming, p. 81

Talk to me about the relationship between idealism and violence in your stories.

Idealism gives one a sense of righteousness and higher purpose. It can add spiritual strength for an individual; it also helps justify what he or she does to other individuals. Idealism does not directly lead to violence, but it dulls the other senses that help stave off violence. It is that dulled sense, very evident in “Watch the Thrill” and “Men Don’t Apologize,” that creates an environment where violence of one group against another can easily manifest.

I love this line from “The Randomness of Love,” p. 130: “Which is better: to have a false belief and be content, or to break the false belief and feel empty?” I’d love to hear you talk more about this.

For many people in China, Mao Zedong was a secular god. The belief in the man and the mission he was on was very much that of devout religious believers. As the mission went wrong, that belief was challenged in a way that religious beliefs cannot be challenged (in the sense that religious belief puts faith above evidence).

So, when faced with all the evidence what does one do? This is an especially poignant question for a person who has already rejected religious beliefs and so has nothing to fall back on.

During the Cultural Revolution, an entire generation had been sent to the countryside, and spent the best part of their youth in alien fields, determined not to marry until allowed back to the city. When they did finally return, the men went for younger girls, while their female peers were left to age alone. It was like the aftermath of war, except that the men were wed instead of dead.
- “Pivot Point,” Apologies Forthcoming, p. 21

Let’s talk about the artwork in the book. There are eight stories and four insets. That’s not something I often see in a story collection.

In China illustrations are common in literary books. I guess I did not realize this is unusual in the U.S. My opening story, “Snow Line,” alludes to an actual artwork titled “Dandelion.”

The artist, Wu Fan, is a friend of my parents, while his daughter and I are friends. The genesis of “Snow Line” actually came from the daughter; she had modeled the little girl in “Dandelion.” I thought the artwork would add a nice dimension to my story, so I asked for permission to include it from Wu Fan, and he generously agreed. I ended up using three works from Wu Fan; each fits nicely with one of the stories. His daughter did the sketch for “Men Don’t Apologize.”

My publisher, Joe Taylor, kindly accommodated my wish to include the artwork, though he could only do black-and-white. It looks great in the book and I’m very thankful to Joe.

I had recently graduated from an engineering college, and my mother had knocked on all her backdoors to secure me a job in our city. She made sure I would not leave home again, as I had done at 17. My official assignment was a technician in a local factory, a place that needed neither a college graduate nor a technician. And switching jobs was not allowed. As Chairman Mao had – before he passed – repeatedly put it, each of us is just a gear or screw on the revolution machine, and must stay fixed wherever the Party places us.
- “The Randomness of Love,” Apologies Forthcoming, p. 121

What is that hand-written slogan in your book’s cover image?

The slogan reads: “Ardent acclaim for the publication of the New Year editorial!” During the Cultural Revolution, every New Year Day people paraded on the streets to celebrate the editorial of the People’s Daily newspaper, which was often written by Mao.

If you allow me to digress, there’s something that might surprise you. Despite his historical sins, Mao was a great poet and essayist. Those editorials were very well written, often witty and fun to read, with rich adages and allusions to ancient history. As a child who dreamed to be a writer but had no school to go to, I hand-copied new and interesting expressions from those editorials to build my lexicon.

The public execution will take place tomorrow, in the Da Tianwan Stadium, immediately after the public trial. It is the biggest thrill ever. All of my playmates and I plan to go watch it. And we have to get up early in order to occupy good spots in the front, so that we won’t miss a thing. Pipi, and everyone, is excited. Whatever uneasiness I had is drowned by their enthusiasm. I have only seen executions in movies before. We want to see what Wang Qiang’s expression is like when he’s being shot. And, after that, we will have something to chat about for days, even weeks, and life will be less boring for a while.
- “Watch the Thrill,” Apologies Forthcoming, p. 89

What brought you to America?

That one is easy – my American husband. We married in China but he would not make China his home.

How does being here help you see China differently, and how did growing up in China allow you to see America differently?

To be able to experience life in two countries of opposites both geographically and politically really helped me build a balanced worldview, however there is a constant tension for me. For example, I have not been all that enthusiastic about the Olympics because they require massive investment that could be used to make a better life for poor rural people in China. At the same time I get very upset when Americans throw around terms like “genocide Olympics.”

I find myself defending America to my Chinese friends and defending China to my American friends. I am also critical of both countries. Many issues of contention arise out of a lack of understanding and I hope my writing will help a little in that respect.

What was heroic, just, and glorious then, is ignorant, criminal, and shameful now. It seems only those who survive the waste can understand, dooming new generations to repeat it in different places, for different causes.
- “Second Encounter,” Apologies Forthcoming, p. 141

You and I have been editing each other’s stories for a long, long time. Let’s hear your journey of submitting stories for publication, searching for an agent, and how you ended up publishing with Livingston Press.

I began to search for an agent after several of the stories had been published in good literary magazines, including Night Train, at a time when you were the managing editor. (Thanks again, Sue!) It took me about two years to land an agent. But she could not sell my story collection and I had to leave her. It was not her fault – it is a well-known fact that commercial publishers discriminate against story collections. I solved this by entering contests. “Apologies Forthcoming” won the 2007 Tartt Fiction Award and that is how it got published.

Is there anything you learned about navigating through this business that you could share with my readers?

I remember reading somewhere that a writing teacher keeps telling his students that no one has to read their work. That is, unless it’s good. I thought that was a very good piece of teaching, a truism. Publication is, of course, an important (though often depressing) part of a writer’s career, and it has taken lots of my time. But I find the ultimate satisfaction comes not from the business side but from our utmost exertion in pursuit of literary quality. As the Tang Dynasty poet Du Fu sang over 1200 years ago, “If my words haven’t astounded readers, I won’t rest in death.” This, at least is less depressing.

I know you’ve completed a memoir called Swimming with Mao. How about a two-sentence pitch for any agents or editors who might be reading this interview?

It is not yet complete because I keep rewriting, but: it is a family epic, from my parents’ roles in the Chinese revolution and their animosity toward America, to my marriage to an American man, to my American-born daughter’s misconception of China.

It sounds like a book I would love!

Xie xie, Xujun! And if anyone reading this interview is interested in having a look at that memoir, you can contact Xujun here. And don’t forget to check out her blog, Inside-Out China.

{ 76 comments… read them below or add one }

Myfanwy June 4, 2008 at 7:32 am

Great, great interview. Thank you, Susan for your thoughtful questions and Xujun for your equally thoughtful answers.

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Xujun June 4, 2008 at 9:23 am

Nice to see you here, Myf!

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Xujun June 4, 2008 at 10:05 am

Sue, I did not know there’s an English translation of “Red Crag”! Fascinating. I might want to find it to read.

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SusanHenderson June 4, 2008 at 11:30 am

Hi Myf, thanks for being here!

(Don’t forget, everyone, if you put a little picture where that robot-face is, you don’t have to wait for your comments to be moderated. If you don’t want to put a face there, you can always put the cover of a book you want to promote.)

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SusanHenderson June 4, 2008 at 11:32 am

I think it would be so interesting to go back and read that book all these years later and talk about how it affects you now or try to find what it was that captured you so much when you were little.

So glad to be able to show you off today! xo

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Aurelio June 4, 2008 at 11:46 am

“If my words haven’t astounded readers, I won’t rest in death.” Love that.

Thank you, Xujun. Your stories sound wonderful, and I congratulate you on securing publication for them. I traveled China for the first time last year, so your stories are especially interesting to me, and will go on my reading list.

Thank you too, Susan, for introducing us to another fine author.

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jessicaK June 4, 2008 at 11:54 am

Thank you so much for this interview, Xujun. I am riveted by your stories’ deep ambiguities, the cultural turmoil you describe and your complex, personal experiences. Your collection sounds wonderful. I am definitely going to read it.

Susan, once again your interview questions deliver!

Best wishes to you, Xujun, as you work through your memoir. Have you sent any work to Agni Magazine (where I’m a fiction editor)?

Jessica Keener

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RAC June 4, 2008 at 12:10 pm

Xujun and Susan,
The tension between the political and cultural poles is fascinating. I would like to know more about how one comes to an understanding with personal, emotional truth in the face of near-overwhelming legacies. Fascinating!
–Richard

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Xujun June 4, 2008 at 12:43 pm

Hi Jessica,

Thanks for stopping by. Yes, one of my stories in the book, “Pivot Point,” was first published in Agni 62. I think it was after that the collection began to take form.

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Xujun June 4, 2008 at 12:45 pm

Thanks Aurelio. Where did you go in China?

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jessicaK June 4, 2008 at 12:53 pm

Ha! I must have had a feeling–that was just before I joined the Agni crew. I’m glad we got you started.

Jessica Keener

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Xujun June 4, 2008 at 12:57 pm

Hi Rac,

Very good question. It is always a challenge to come to personal understanding. For me, it took three decades. I don’t think I could’ve if I hadn’t lived in the US – the experiences of living in two opposite countries really helped me to take an “apolitical and humanistic” view, as a reader says.

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Xujun June 4, 2008 at 1:05 pm

Yes it is, Sue. When I visited China last year to do research for my memoir, I found the book in my parents’ house and took it with me here. Rereading it makes me nostalgic in a strange way, but the feelings now are quite different from when I was young.

Many thanks for having me here, Sue! I’m honored.

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Aurelio June 4, 2008 at 1:11 pm

Beijing, Xi’an, Tibet (Lhasa), Chengdu, Giulin, and Shanghai. Here are some pictures from our trip I posted on line:

China Trip Pix

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Linda Austin June 4, 2008 at 1:25 pm

One of the best interviews I’ve read – fascinating! The book is on my wish list, and the new one sounds very interesting, too.

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SusanHenderson June 4, 2008 at 2:00 pm

I wish I’d read her book before I traveled to China. Now I’ll have to go back!

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SusanHenderson June 4, 2008 at 2:01 pm

They are riveting stories. And did you know, Jess, that Sven blurbed her book? Small world! (Oh, hey, and you are both in Boston. I’ll bet you’ve crossed paths many times!)

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SusanHenderson June 4, 2008 at 2:03 pm

Hi Richard! Great comment. I have always loved talking with people who have lived in more than one country because they learn to pan back from their opinions and see larger truths. Xujun’s book definitely does that.

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SusanHenderson June 4, 2008 at 2:07 pm

Hi Linda! I agree she’s a fascinating interview.

I should also let you all know that Xujun did a small interview with me in return – very sweet – and great opportunity to direct you over to her blog: http://www.insideoutchina.com/2008/06/serious-frolic-in-litpark.html

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edscutegirl June 4, 2008 at 2:12 pm

Another excellent interview in the park. Thanks Susan and Xujun. This book along with Red Crag are on my must read list now. Keep working on the family epic, Xujun, it sounds fascinating.

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Pia Z. Ehrhardt June 4, 2008 at 2:16 pm

I’m so happy about the publication of your book, Xujun. “Feathers” is a gift of a story – brave and hard won – and I will never forget it. I’m looking forward to reading the collection.

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Nathalie June 4, 2008 at 3:05 pm

Looks like a great nterview and an interesting book – but I’ll have to read it more at leisure.
On a different – but not so different – topic, I remember asking if agents were really necessary to a writer.
Somebody has provided a great answer to this.
Enjoy.

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maiasmama2000 June 4, 2008 at 3:26 pm

Xujun, Congratulations! I am looking forward to reading the collection and I’m delighted that it is available for order in Canada. My copy should be on its way.

Terrific interview. The images are also wonderful and add to the anticipation for your stories.

All the best and hope to see you soon!

Susan

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jerrywaxler June 4, 2008 at 4:31 pm

Hi Susan,

This is a wonderful interview, which doesn’t surprise me. As I found out from working with Xujun, everything she works on becomes lovely. Somehow she has found the knack of pouring her good intentions out into her actions, and voila – good stuff. I was fascinated to meet Xujun because of my current obsession of trying to understand how people turn real life into literature. Her writing, in addition to being entertaining, provided me with weeks of fascinating material to ponder. I published an essay and a two part interview with Xujun on these topics.

Good luck with your blog Susan, and the rest of your book tour Xujun!

Best wishes,
Jerry Waxler
http://www.memorywritersnetwork.com/blog

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Xujun June 4, 2008 at 4:39 pm

Linda, thanks for the kind note. If you scroll down Sue’s blog, you’ll see a series of excellent and enjoyable interviews. LitPark really is a nice place.

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Xujun June 4, 2008 at 4:42 pm

Thanks, Sarah. “Red Crag” is a bit of a wild card, not sure how well it will read in translation. It depends a lot on the translator.

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Xujun June 4, 2008 at 4:46 pm

Hi Pia, how are you? So you remember we workshopped that story at Tin House! Your insights into the story were quite helpful. Thanks again – and I hope you’ll enjoy the rest of the stories in the collection.

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Xujun June 4, 2008 at 4:51 pm

Thanks for the link and for commenting on my blog, Nathalie. It is nice to have an agent; it’s just that it is hard to find the right one…

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Xujun June 4, 2008 at 4:57 pm

Hi Susan! How nice to see you here. When are you going to visit Boston? Please email me the details. I really look forward to seeing you again. And thanks a lot for ordering my book! I look forward to your book as well.

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Xujun June 4, 2008 at 5:02 pm

Hi Jerry, thanks for the nice comments. I’m learning a lot from you as well. I do hope people will go read your memory writing essays – they are wonderful.

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jessicaK June 4, 2008 at 5:56 pm

Xujun, I also love your collection title.

Jessica

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EllenMeister June 4, 2008 at 6:26 pm

One of your best interviews ever! I can’t wait to read Xujun’s collection.
xo

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Xujun June 4, 2008 at 6:30 pm

Nathalie, the video is no long available. Strange.

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Xujun June 4, 2008 at 7:23 pm

Thanks Jessica. But there is a story here. At first I planned to name the collection “Men Don’t Apologize,” which comes from one of the stories. However when I discussed this title with a group of writer friends on Zoetrope, it got lots of objections, :-) I told Joe (my publisher) about my friends’ opinions and he suggested a tweak to the current title, and we all liked it.

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Xujun June 4, 2008 at 7:24 pm

Thanks a lot, Ellen! You have been one of the most helpful friends.

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Mary Akers June 4, 2008 at 7:40 pm

Excellent interview!

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mlakers June 4, 2008 at 7:46 pm

I figured out the picture! Great interview, Susan and Xujun!

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SusanHenderson June 4, 2008 at 9:24 pm

The pleasure is mine!

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SusanHenderson June 4, 2008 at 9:26 pm

I’d be very interested to hear your take on Red Crag if you decide to dive in.

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SusanHenderson June 4, 2008 at 9:26 pm

Yay, Pia’s here!

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SusanHenderson June 4, 2008 at 9:27 pm

That’s very funny and mostly depressing!

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SusanHenderson June 4, 2008 at 9:28 pm

Welcome, Susan!

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SusanHenderson June 4, 2008 at 9:29 pm

She’s also great company for eating seaweed salad! Glad to have you here, Jerry. I’ll check out your site the moment I meet my writing goal for the day.

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SusanHenderson June 4, 2008 at 9:30 pm

Up for lunch once the kids are on holiday?

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SusanHenderson June 4, 2008 at 9:31 pm

Thanks, Mary! And thanks for putting your picture up!

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Xujun June 4, 2008 at 9:55 pm

Very nice pics, Aurelio. The “stick and mud construction” photo is a great one! The picture of you with the Peking Duck is funny. And I adore the two playful baby pandas. Could I email the panda photo to my daughter? She was born in America but she just loves pandas.

Were you with a tourist group? I wonder why Chongqing wasn’t in your itinerary. It is only a few hours from Chengdu by train or bus.

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Xujun June 4, 2008 at 9:59 pm

Nice to see you here, Mary!

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Mayra Calvani June 5, 2008 at 8:41 am

Terrific interview! I also discovered this wonderful blog. Thanks, Xujun, for inviting me here today. Good luck with sales!
Best,
Mayra

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Aurelio June 5, 2008 at 11:37 am

You are welcome to use the panda picture, of course.

Our trip was a tour by UC Davis Alumni Association (Chuck’s alma mater). I’m not sure why we skipped Chongqing, but the tour was a mad rush to see all we did see. We were primarily interested in visiting Lhasa which, since the latest uprising, is closed to tourists again.

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Carolyn_Burns_Bass June 5, 2008 at 1:43 pm

I find myself defending America to my Chinese friends and defending China to my American friends. I am also critical of both countries. Many issues of contention arise out of a lack of understanding and I hope my writing will help a little in that respect.

This is so real. There is nothing like an eyewitness to give perspective. Yet, the perspective depends on where the eyewitness is standing.

A Chinese adage, “The succeeded is titled the king, and the defeated is named the bandit,”

Has a similar ring to the Western adage, “History is written by the victors.”

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aimeepalooza June 5, 2008 at 2:52 pm

The collection sounds wonderful. As a small town girl from Michigan, I love a different perspective. As a political science major in undergrad, I studied this time period in China. But the perspective was a simplistic ; Mao was bad and this is why….

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Xujun June 5, 2008 at 4:39 pm

Thanks for visiting, Mayra!

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Xujun June 5, 2008 at 4:43 pm

Thanks for the comments, Carolyn. It is true that these two adages are very similar. Interestingly, this raises a question in writing: which adage would you use when there are similar ones from two different cultures? I tend to use the one from my native language.

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Xujun June 5, 2008 at 4:49 pm

Exactly. “Mao was bad and this is why….” does not give one much insights into history or human behavior, doesn’t it.

Very interesting that you studied political science. I have an article that touches this field. If you have the time and interest, here’s the link: http://thechinabeat.blogspot.com/2008/06/china-democracy-or-confucianism.html

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Gail Siegel June 5, 2008 at 9:43 pm

Xujun is not only a wonderful writer, she’s been tenacious about getting her work out into the world. I’m so excited to see this all unfold, and for you, Xujun, to get the accolades you deserve. xxxGail

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patry June 5, 2008 at 10:22 pm

I just saw something about Xuxun’s book on another blog. I was intrigued, but all I really knew about it was the title–which I love. Now I know something more important; I know I MUST HAVE this collection of stories.

Congratulations!

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SusanHenderson June 5, 2008 at 10:31 pm

I am psyched to announce that Xujun’s book has sold out on Amazon. Start that second printing!

My son’s been up late working on a report on Robert Sobukwe, and I’m only now getting to the blog post that will go up at midnight. I’ll be back to answer all the comments tomorrow. Glad so many of you are excited about Xujun’s book!

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James Spring June 6, 2008 at 3:46 pm

This is a great interview, and I can’t wait to read the book(s).

I really appreciated the thoughtfulness on both sides of the mic…

- James

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Xujun June 6, 2008 at 8:51 pm

Thank you, Gail! You are always so kind and supportive.

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Xujun June 6, 2008 at 8:53 pm

Thank you, Patry! I’m glad the title grabbed your attention. I hope you’ll enjoy the stories.

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Xujun June 6, 2008 at 8:55 pm

James, that’s very nice of you to say. I certainly had fun during the conversation with Sue.

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Nathalie June 9, 2008 at 12:03 pm

Great interview and thanks to you both for the treat. I love how you speak of the ambivalence of feeling regarding this period and I feel for the people who had to go through such mad period. I will certainly read your book, Xujun.

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Xujun June 9, 2008 at 10:07 pm

Thank you, Nathalie!

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SusanHenderson June 10, 2008 at 1:55 pm

That’s the really lovely thing that comes from traveling – seeing what you couldn’t see about your homeland without the distance.

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SusanHenderson June 10, 2008 at 1:56 pm

Hope folks are clicking on that link.

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SusanHenderson June 10, 2008 at 1:59 pm

I agree!

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SusanHenderson June 10, 2008 at 2:00 pm

Xujun and I have known each other a long time, so the interview was easy.

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SusanHenderson June 10, 2008 at 2:00 pm

I’m so glad you’re here, Patry. xo

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SusanHenderson June 10, 2008 at 2:02 pm

I never believe someone’s take on a historical event if it’s too cut and dry. I love the Xujun’s ability to help you see the emotional complexity of both sides.

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Traveler64 June 16, 2008 at 2:39 am

Thank you for this interview. Very insightful (of course) and perhaps from a different angle than the usual. Just recently I’ve read Jung Chang’s MAO and her account in Wild Swans. I shared with her some common memories of the early fifties that connected some of the history she related in her book that involved events in Romania. The period of the Cultural Revolution always interested me because my first impressions of it, from very glossy magazines, did come to me while I was a child in Romania; and believe me, the impression I got from those very colorful magazines was quite different from the reality.

I am looking forward to reading Ms.Eberlein’s stories.

The story of how she got published was very interesting also. It’s rarely a straight path, is it?

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Traveler64 June 16, 2008 at 2:49 am

I just ordered Apologies Forthcoming from Amazon. I can hardly wait to receive it. Thank you, Xujun, for the interview and the stories you wrote. They come from the heart.

(I wrote another commentary here, but I think it got lost in the shufle. May be it will show up, eventually.)

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SusanHenderson June 16, 2008 at 8:36 am

Here, let me link those books for anyone who might be interested.

Mao: http://www.amazon.com/Mao-Story-Jung-Chang/dp/0679746323/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1213619548&sr=8-1
Wild Swans: http://www.amazon.com/Wild-Swans-Three-Daughters-China/dp/B000YTFMU0/ref=pd_bbs_sr_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1213619548&sr=8-2

I think most of us have your experience of only getting a partial or slanted story of world events. The trick is realizing that and then filling in the gaps. Good for you for doing that!

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SusanHenderson June 16, 2008 at 8:38 am

Thanks so much for ordering Xujun’s book.

(If you have a photo loaded when you make a comment, the comments show up right away. Otherwise they have to be moderated in. That’s a very confused way of explaining it. Maybe Terry Bain or Daniel Ha can explain better.) Either way, so glad you stopped by!

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SusanHenderson June 16, 2008 at 8:48 am

Just a couple more links. My good pal, Kesey, has some interesting thoughts here today: http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=82091157&blogID=406152543

And if you don’t already read The China Blog over at Time Magazine, I think it’s a good one: http://time-blog.com/china_blog/

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Traveler64 June 23, 2008 at 1:57 am

The book MAO should come with a warnng–it was the most horrendous and wrenching read of history I’ve ever had. As an avid student ov history, after reading so much and about so many horrific moments of human insanity, I though I was immune and could deal with anything at a very clinical level. This book ripped the underbelly of a regime and revealed a level of suffering inflicted by so few on so many that shook me up. Even the most unforgiving critics of the system could not grasp the depth of the human and historical tragedy.

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SusanHenderson June 24, 2008 at 7:50 am

Thanks so much for mentioning this.

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