'Once upon a time, the story goes, there were three sisters. One loved money, one loved power and one loved her country.’
In 1991, British-Chinese author Jung Chang made history with her blockbuster family biography, Wild Swans, about the lives of her grandmother, her mother and her self, set against the backdrop of China's seismic 19th and 20th centuries. The book sold more than 13 million copies, though it was banned in China. Since then, Chang has released other major works, including a history of Chairman Mao himself, co-written with her husband, historian Jon Halliday.
Her new book, Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister is another historical biography on a monumental scale. This time, Chang is telling the story of the famous Soong sisters. These three extraordinary Shanghainese women, born at the tail-end of the Qing Dynasty and educated in the West, each played a critical role in the making of modern China, exerting influence through the powerful men they married and in their own right, too. The sisters chose different sides in the Chinese Civil War and their story is a story of opulence, courage, idealism and betrayal.
‘Around the time I learned to write my name, I heard about the Soong sisters, whose reputation permeated Chinese society like some heady, if slightly unholy, perfume,’ Jung Chang has written. In March, their extraordinary history will permeate the Wheeler Centre as Chang appears in conversation with Leanne Hall.
Readings will be our bookseller for this event.
Jung Chang is the internationally-bestselling author of Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China; Mao: The Unknown Story (with Jon Halliday); and Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China. Her latest book is Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister: Three Women at the Heart of Twentieth-Century China.
Her books have been translated into over 40 languages and sold more than 15 million copies outside mainland China, where they are banned. She was born in China in 1952, and came to Britain in 1978. She lives in London.
Leanne Hall is an author of young adult and children's fiction. Her debut novel, This Is Shyness, won the 2009 Text Prize for Children's and Young Adult Writing, and was followed by a sequel, Queen of the Night. Her novel for younger readers, Iris and the Tiger, won the Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children's Literature at the 2017 NSW Premier's Literary Awards.
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