New Left Review = NLR
Wang Bing = WB
NLR: Could you tell us about your childhood and family background?
WB: When I was born in 1967, our family was half in the city and half in the countryside. My parents had left their respective villages in Shaanxi Province in the 1950s, both moving to the provincial capital, Xi’an. The early 1960s were the famine years, following the Great Leap Forward, and to reduce pressure on supplies, city-dwellers had been urged to move back to the countryside. By that time my father was studying in college, so it was my mother who left, though we three children were all born in Xi’an; my sister is two years older than me, my brother four years younger. By the time I was born, the Cultural Revolution had already started. Everybody advised—and my father agreed—that cities were too chaotic to be safe, plus it would be more convenient looking after little children in their home village. So after we were born, my mother always brought us back to the countryside. We all attended schools in rural areas.