(China, 1952) became world-famous with Wild Swans, which sold more than ten million copies. It tells the history of China from the perspective of her own, her mother's, and her grandmother's lives. Chang became an international celebrity but her book was banned in China. As a child of senior party cadres she enjoyed many priviledges, but her family lost everything when her parents came into conflict with Mao. They were rehabilitated after his death, and Chang became the first Chinese person to earn a PhD in England. After writing Wild Swans, she spent more than a decade working with her husband, Irish historian Jon Halliday, on a bulky biography of Mao Zedong. In 2013 she published The Empress Dowager Cixi: the concubine who launched modern China. Itportrays the often-criticized Cixi, who ruled China from 1861-1908, as a smart proto-feminist who guided China into the modern world but was curtailed by the conservative imperial bureaucracy.(2015)
Archive available for: Jung Chang
With: Alaa al Aswani, Dick van der Harst, Dilek Dundar, Farah Karimi, Guy Danel, Habtom Yohannes, Jennifer Clement, Jung Chang, Lex Bohlmeijer, Manon Uphoff, Reinier Voet, Renate Dorrestein, Toine Heijmans, Ton van de Langkruis
On opening night, the spotlight is on freedom of speech.The Sino-British writer Jung Chang knows what it means to be unable to speak freely in one's country. Years after she left Communist China, her world-famous book Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China was banned there. Tonight she delivers the Free the Word! keynote speech. With the following presentation of the prestigious Oxfam Novib PEN Awards, the festival honours contemporary authors who seek and propagate truth at the risk of their freedom and lives. The award-winners are the Turkish writer and journalist Can Dundar (who is now in prison in Turkey and will be represented by his wife Dilek Dundar), the Eritrean poet and songwriter Amanuel Asrat, who will be represented by Habtom Yohannes, and the Egyptian poet Omar Hazek. He would have been present in The Hague to receive the award, but was stopped on his way to The Netherlands at Cairo airport by the authorities. His fellow-countryman writer Alaa Al Aswany will represent him. After the ceremony, Lex Bohlmeijer will lead a discussion on how good intentions can founder when we raise issues of injustice, such as censorship. How can we really help threatened writers? And what is the point of good intentions when they have the opposite effect? Musical interventions by musician-in-residence Dick van der Harst switch up this English-language event.