Eileen Chang’s ‘Naked Earth’

LF_GOLBE_NAKED_AP_001Stefany Anne Golberg at The Smart Set:

Eileen Chang started writing early, completing her first novel at the age of 12. By the time the Communist government came to power, Eileen Chang was a well-known writer in China (now considered by many to be China’s first modernist). Dubious about her role in this new society, however, Chang chose self-imposed exile. She moved to Hong Kong, then Japan, then back to Hong Kong, and eventually to Los Angeles, where she died alone in her apartment in 1995. Chang never again returned to mainland China. In Hong Kong, America became Eileen Chang’s patron. For three years, she worked as a translator for the United States Information Service. Then the USIS hired Chang to write anti-Communist propaganda in the form of two novels: The Rice Sprout Song and Naked Earth. Wanting propaganda, the Information Service encouraged Chang to be unsparing in her depiction of China’s confessional spectacles. And so she was.

In another early scene from Naked Earth, a Mass Meeting is held in the vacant lot in front of an ancestral temple. Tang, a Middling Farmer (neither unfortunately rich nor blessedly poor), is brought to a platform for his session. Schoolchildren wave paper flags and sing loudly. They are accompanied by militiamen, members of the Farm Workers Association, the Women’s Association, the Youth Vanguard Corps.

more here.