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中国日报 刊登《直言》书评

   新闻来源:中国日报   创建时间:Feb 26, 2016  

 A history of change in the words of those who lived it

By Mei Jia ( China Daily )

 

For readers like Zhang Qin, born in the 1990s, it's news that in 1978 there was a movement against flared trousers.

Teachers would then catch the offenders and cut off the "extra" cloth in an effort to keep the young away from "bourgeois corruption", symbolized by such "weird" fashion.

And till March that year, quotes by Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Vladimir Lenin, and Mao Zedong had to be printed in bold while published in newspapers.

It was Deng Xiaoping who put a stop to the practice.

"I know how dramatic the changes were in 1978, the start of the reforms and the opening up, but there were so many details about our recent history that I did not know," says Zhang.

Zhang's comments were in relation to a 346-page book, Straight Talks: Chinese Social Discourses from 1978-2012, which has grabbed her attention.

She says she was also touched by the brief stories of the common people as their fate changes and turns with the bigger historical torrents, alongside the bigger names' remarks and decisions.

The book also contains a story of how film director Zhang Yimou gained access to university after three years of farm work and seven years of factory labor, when entrance exams for universities were resumed.

It also tells how perplexed then 19-year-old Zhang Huamei, from Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, was when she got the news that she would receive the country's first certificate to run a private business in December 1980.

Zhang, the book says, was reluctant to take the piece of paper home, since she worried that she would be punished in the future for stepping into the realm of a market economy.

But her father, the book adds, said to her, the country is determined to reform, so go ahead.

Focusing on such incidents in Chinese society over the past 34 years, the book quotes from remarks, articles and comments recorded in the news media and other material.