A fascinating collection of interviews exploring the resurgence of Christianity in China.
No stranger to censorship, award-winning Chinese author, journalist and poet Liao (The Corpse Walker, 2008) has spent time in prison for writing critically of China’s Communist regime. Here the author examines Christianity, which survived under China’s Cultural Revolution despite attempts to eradicate it as a “lackey of the imperialists." While atheism remains the cultural norm in China today, estimates report that Christianity now stands as China’s largest formal religion, surpassing both Buddhism and Taoism in numbers. In an attempt to understand why a foreign religion gained such popularity, Liao interviews a wide range of Chinese Christians, from an elderly nun who witnessed both the closing and eventual reopening of her church by the Communist regime, to a missionary doctor treating impoverished villagers in lieu of working in a government-run hospital, to a dying tailor who finds meaning in his recent conversion to the faith. Many of the interviewees recall hardships such as being socially ostracized, beaten, paraded in dunce caps or even arrested and tortured—and this in addition to suffering from the mass famine that claimed millions of lives between 1959 and 1962. A non-Christian himself, Liao transcribes his interviews with little additional commentary, allowing the heartbreaking tales of persecution and spiritual fervor to speak for themselves.
Will appeal to both Christian and secular readers interested in the cultural realities of China’s Great Leap Forward.