Back in Nanjing 1989-1997, Xinran ran a radio program called "Words of the Night Breeze," the motive in her words: "to open a window, a tiny hole, so that people could allow their spirits to cry out and breathe after the gunpowder- laden atmosphere"
[of the Cultural Revolution].
The Good Women of China: Hidden Voices is a compilation of 14 life stories taken from personal interviews of some of these 'survivors' - women whose lives were agonizingly destroyed, their families ripped to shreds, their existences pummeled into chaotic dust. For possibly the first time, these isolated women, of varying backgrounds and economic conditions, have been given a voice through Xinran. The stories are powerful, gripping, anguished accounts of inhumane treatment, torture, rape, hunger, death; all direct consequences of the Cultural Revolution.
Xinran's compassion for these women inspired her to recount her mother's story and that of her own destroyed childhood when, at age seven, she witnessed the Red Guards march into her home and burn all her family possessions, including cutting off her plaits and throwing them onto the fire: "From now on, you are forbidden to tie your hair back with ribbons. That is an imperialist hairstyle!" Her parents were imprisoned and she and her brother were made to suffer daily humiliations, labeled as 'polluters' of the revolution.
These stories, as overwhelmingly tragic as they are, are written in Xinran's exceptionally poetic prose, highlighting their deeply inspiring qualities, the unbreakable strength of maternal love and the everlasting endurance of the human spirit.