Will the Boat Sink the Water?

Will the Boat Sink the Water? : The Life of China's Peasants

3.59 (297 ratings by Goodreads)
  • Paperback
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The Chinese economic miracle is happening despite, not because of, China's 900 million peasants. They are missing from the portraits of booming Shanghai or Beijing. Many of China's underclass live under a feudalistic system unchanged since the fifteenth century. They are truly the voiceless in modern China. They are also, perhaps, the reason that China will not be able to make the great social and economic leap forward, because if it is to leap it must carry the 900 million with it. Chinese journalists Wu Chuntao and Chen Guidi returned to Wu's home province of Anhui, one of China's poorest, to undertake a three-year survey of what had happened to the peasants there, by asking the question: have the peasants been betrayed by the revolution undertaken in their name by Mao and his successors? The result is a brilliant narrative of life among the 900 million, and a vivid portrait of the petty dictators that run China's villages and counties and the consequences of their bullying despotism on the people they administer. Told principally through four dramatic narratives of particular Anhui people, "Will the Boat Sink the Water?" gives voice to the unheard masses and looks beneath the gloss of the new China to find the truth of daily life for its vast population of rural poor.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 256 pages
  • 138 x 204 x 18mm | 281.23g
  • PublicAffairs,U.S.
  • New York, United States
  • 1586484184
  • 9781586484187
  • 1,990,845

Review quote

"Among the most explosive books in recent years." Banned in China: "A heartbreaking tale of what can happen when ordinary Chinese try to demand justice and accountability from their leaders." "A banned book whose publication is compared to a clap of thunder... delves deeply into the rural conundrum that continues to bedevil China's Communist Party leaders"
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About Chen Guidi

Wu Chuntao was born in the Hunan province of China in 1963. Her husband, Chen Guidi was born in 1943 in the Chinese province of Anhui. Both authors come from peasant families, spending their formative years in the countryside before moving to the city at the age of nine and eleven, respectively. Wu and Chen are both members and respected writers of the Hefei Literature Association. Mr Chen, who is also a member of the Association of Chinese Writers, has been a recipient of the Lu Xun Literature Achievement Award - one of the most important literary prizes in China - for his piece of reportage on the environmental conditions of the Huaihe river. In 2001, the couple began their work on their monumental piece of literary reportage entitled A Survey of Chinese Peasants. Though they had discussed the idea for the text over a ten year period, it was when Mrs Wu was giving birth to her son that the couple finally made their decision. The couple observed how a pregnant mother and her child died giving birth because the family was too poor to afford proper medical attention. A Survey of Chinese Peasants took over three years to write, forcing the couple to spend all their savings in order to produce the book. Mr Chen and Mrs Wu travelled to over 50 towns throughout the Anhui province, made several trips to Beijing to talk to the authorities, and interviewed hundreds of peasants. First published by the literary magazine Dangdai (Modern Magazine), at the end of 2003, the success of the expose prompted one of China's main literary publishers to reproduce the reportage in book format. In just one month it sold over 150,000 copies before being taken off the shelves by the Chinese authorities. Following the move, only pirated editions could be found on the streets, seven million of which have been sold throughout China.
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Rating details

297 ratings
3.59 out of 5 stars
5 19% (56)
4 37% (109)
3 31% (93)
2 11% (34)
1 2% (5)
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