A searing first-person account of becoming the target of Red Guard fury. The most important Cultural Revolution document published in China in the 1990s, this harrowing, stylishly written book’s English-language edition benefits from Chenxin Jiang’s deft translation and Zha Jianying’s superb introduction.
—Jeffrey Wasserstrom, Financial Times
At the center of Ji’s account, ably translated by Chenxin Jiang, is the ‘cowshed' of the title…[Ji’s] description of this institution, really a kind of mini concentration camp, is unforgettable.
—Richard Bernstein, The New York Times Book Review
Offers a rare and harrowing description of life as a prisoner of the Red Guards...[with] a compelling introduction.
—Jane Perlez, The New York Times Sinosphere blog
Cowshed deserves to be near the top of anyone’s list of literary memoirs of China under Maoist rule.
—Philip F. Williams, World Literature Today
China doesn’t make it easy for its people to openly discuss sensitive issues. Some were surprised, then, when a professor at one of the country’s most prestigious universities published this memoir in 1998 of his abuse during the decade-long, deadly social upheaval known as the Cultural Revolution. This book is a short, clear read, and now it’s in English.
—Cara Anna, Associated Press
A bestseller in China, this memoir calls attention to the tremendous injustices wrought in that anarchic time. . . . [Ji’s] pages seethe with grievance and reckoning. . . . [A] meaningful document of a time too little chronicled and now all but forgotten by younger Chinese people.
Ji, as a world-renowned expert on Buddhism, Sanskrit, and comparative religions, brings a perspective to this hellish time that is marvelously informed, ironic, and revealing. Western readers get far more than simply an opportunity to be immersed in the sordid details of Red Guard torture. This book raises questions about religiosity, dictatorship, and trauma that will impact far beyond the China studies world. Chenxin Jiang’s translation and notes elucidate with skill, and empathy, the difficult details of the text. . . . Here lies the opportunity of genuine testimony, as glimpsed so dramatically in the works of Primo Levi, Jean Améry, and Dori Laub.
—Vera Schwarcz, Mansfield Freeman Professor of East Asian Studies, Wesleyan University
The most detailed account of Mao-era violence ever published inside China, now available in English translation.
—Perry Link, Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature and Foreign Languages, University of California, Riverside
To a remarkable extent, The Cowshed achieved Ji’s goal of directing public attention to the brutality of the Cultural Revolution. And in light of current events such as artist Ai Weiwei’s house arrest and Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo’s imprisonment, Ji Xianlin’s eyewitness story of surviving ‘reform through labor’ is an especially timely read.