F by Mei Zhi
Hu eng's Prison Years

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Synopsis

Hu Feng, the ‘counterrevolutionary’ leader of a banned literary school, spent twenty-five years in the Chinese Communist Party’s prison system. But back in the Party’s early days, he was one of its best known literary theoreticians and critics—at least until factional infighting, and his short fuse, made him persona non grata among the establishment.

His wife, Mei Zhi, shared his incarceration for many years. F is her account of that time, beginning ten years after her and Hu Feng’s initial arrest. She herself was eventually released, after which she navigated the party’s Byzantine prison bureaucracy searching for his whereabouts. Having finally found him, she voluntarily returned to gaol to care for him in his rage and suffering, watching his descent into madness as the excesses of the Cultural Revolution took their toll.

Both an intimate portrait of Mei Zhi’s life with Hu Feng and a stark account of the prison system and life under Mao, F is at once beautiful and harrowing.

With support from English PEN

This book has been selected to receive financial assistance from English PEN’s Writers in Translation programme supported by Bloomberg. English PEN exists to promote literature and its understanding, uphold writers’ freedoms around the world, campaign against the persecution and imprisonment of writers for stating their views, and promote the friendly co-operation of writers and free exchange of ideas. For more information visit www.englishpen.org.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Mei Zhi

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MEI ZHI (1914–2004), originally known as Tu Qihua, was born in Changzhou, Jiangsu. She joined the Left-Wing Writers’ Union in 1932. In 1944, she joined the All-China Anti-Japanese Association of Literary and Art Circles. She helped Hu Feng edit the literary periodicals July and Hope. In the 1930s she began writing essays, novels, children’s stories and poetry. She published several books of poems for children. In 1955, she was forced after the attack on Hu Feng to stop her creative work. In 1980, after Hu Feng’s rehabilitation, she was appointed as a writer in residence of the Chinese Writers’ Association. As well as resuming her writing for children, she published a large number of memoirs and essays, including the present book and a full-length biography of Hu Feng. Gregor Benton is Professor Emeritus of Chinese History at Cardiff. He has published twelve prior books on Marxism, political humor, the history of the Chinese Communist Party, Red guerillas in the 1930s, the Sino-Japanese War, dissent in China, Chinese Trotskyism, Hong Kong, the theory of moral economy, and overseas Chinese. His Mountain Fires: The Red Army’s Three-Year War in South China, 1934-1938 (1992) won several awards, including the Association of Asian Studies’ prize for the best book on modern China.
 
Published February 12, 2013 by Verso. 337 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, Travel. Non-fiction

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Publishers Weekly

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(The decadeslong inquisition climaxes when Hu, emerging from a particularly brutal prison stint, lapses into a paranoid graphomania in which he admits to imaginary offenses.) In Benton's limpid translation, Mei's own quest for normalcy—a decent meal, a garden, a rare evening of companionship an...

Nov 26 2012 | Read Full Review of F: Hu Feng's Prison Years

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