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Jung Chang

Kirsty Young's castaway is writer Jung Chang.

Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the author Jung Chang. Jung was born in the years after Mao came to power in China and as a child she took part in the Great Leap Forwards by collecting saucepans and nails and trying to melt them down for steel. She was a teenager during the Cultural Revolution and witnessed her parents being denounced and sent to labour camps.

After Mao's death she came to Britain as a student. At the time, she says, she didn't want to think about the past - it used to give her nightmares and so she would pretend she was from Korea. But 10 years after her arrival in Britain, her mother came to visit. She told Jung the stories of her and her grandmother's lives and Jung decided their intimate, family history deserved to have a wider audience. Her book, Wild Swans, has sold more than 12 million copies and won a host of awards.

Investigating her own life and those of her mother and grandmother not only brought the suffering of a nation into sharp focus it was also a liberating experience - once the book was finished, she says, the nightmares stopped.

[Taken from the original programme material for this archive edition of Desert Island Discs]

Favourite track: But Thou Didst Not leave His Soul in Hell by George Frideric Handel
Book: First Love by Ivan Turgenev
Luxury: Snorkelling gear.

Available now

45 minutes

Music Played

Add music you love and enjoy it with My Tracks
  • Les Moines de l’abbaye de Notre Dame of Ganagobie

    The Kyrie X111

    • Gregorian chants.
    • Music Club.
  • Castaway's Favourite

    • George Frideric Handel

      But thou didst not leave (from Mesiah)

      Soloist: Stuart Burrows Orchestra: The London Philharmonic Orchestra Conductor: Karl Richter

      • Handel Messiah.
      • Deutsche Grammophon.
  • Xu & Wang Wenjuan

    The Dream of the Red Chamber

    • Shanghai Opera.
  • Frédéric Chopin

    Nocturne in C Sharp Minor

    Soloist: Fou Ts’Ong

    • Nocturnes Volume 1: Fou Ts’Ong.
    • CBS.
  • Wang Xiangrong

    The Boatman of the Yellow River

    • North Shaanxi Folk Songs.
    • CRC.
  • Ben Webster

    One for the Gov'nor

    Soloist: Ben Webster

    • For the Gov’nor.
    • Affinity.
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    Missa Brevis - Kyrie

    Choir: The Regensburg Cathedral Choir Orchestra: The Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra Conductor: Rafael Kubelik

    • Coronation Mass: Mozart.
    • Deutsche Grammophon.
  • Billie Holiday

    Lady Sings the Blues

    • Jazz En Verve. Vol 1.
    • Verve.
  • Book Choice

    • First Love - Ivan Turgenev

  • Luxury Choice

    • Snorkelling gear


Role Contributor
Presenter Kirsty Young
Interviewed Guest Jung Chang


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