I call this book "Tombstone". It is a tombstone for my foster father who died of hunger in 1959, for the 36 million Chinese who also died of hunger, for the system that caused their death, and perhaps for myself for writing this book. The most powerful and important Chinese work of recent years, Yang Jisheng's "Tombstone" is a passionate, moving and angry account of one of the 20th century's most nightmarish events: the killing of an estimated 36 million Chinese in 1958-1961 by starvation or physical abuse. More people died in Mao's Great Famine than in the entire First World War and yet their story remains substantially untold. Now, at last, they can be heard. Based on survivors' testimonies, this book was greeted with huge acclaim when published in Hong Kong as an essential work of reckoning. "The man who exposed Mao's secret famine". ("Financial Times").
"The man who exposed Mao's secret famine" - Financial Times
Yang Jisheng was born in 1940. He worked for many years at Xinhua News Agency, until his retirement in 2001. From the early 1990s onwards Yang interviewed survivors and collected records of the Great Famine (1959-61), eventually accumulating some 10 million words of testimony. This was published in Chinese originally in two volumes (the English-language edition is edited down) and has been widely acclaimed as the book that not only preserved many extraordinary and terrible stories but also broke a widespread official silence on the subject. Tombstone remains banned in China.