15 March 2012

The Corpse Walker

This is an interesting collection of oral histories from a variety of people in China.  It's similar to China Witness in some ways, but I liked this book better.  The author of The Corpse Walker comes through clearly, as Xinran does in China Witness, but Xinran was more annoying.  There's also a much wider variety of people interviewed in this book.

As always, I looked for references to the minority areas of China and Xinjiang in particular.  There was an interview with an older woman who was from a formerly-wealthy minority family, and there were a couple of mentions of Xinjiang.  One was from a Han family who lived in Urumqi during the 60s and 70s (they spelled Urumqi incorrectly in one place, which was disappointing); he mentioned that the political strife of those years didn't affect him much in Xinjiang.  Another Han man's father tried to cross the border illegally into the Soviet Union in 1962.  He was picked up, but, according to the story, he pretended to be deaf and dumb.  The soldiers thought he was Kazakh and didn't want to strain ethnic relations, so he was just put in prison for a while instead of executed.  I don't know how accurate that story is; I'm a little skeptical, given the situation in Xinjiang in 1962, that the story would have played out that way.

Anyway. Interesting book that was worth reading.

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