“The Bathing Women” by Tie Ning

bathingwomenWith China more and more in the news everyday, politically and economically, this book opens up a whole new aspect of that country: its social and moral scene.

Tie Ning is a well-known author in her own country and also widely translated in other countries, European and Asian. This is the first book, however, to appear in English. It is named after a painting by Cezanne, and is the story of four women who grew up together, survived the Cultural Revolution and are coping with brand new relationships and values.

There are fascinating glimpses of the old China, as when someone breaks into song about Chairman Mao. But the women are struggling with the problems the West has faced: careers, sibling rivalry, love affairs, time for marriage and motherhood.

Tie Ning has published ten books – collections of short fiction, essays, and novels. She is also president of the Chinese Writers’ Association, the youngest writer and first woman to be honoured this way.

Review by Anne McDougall