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November 18, 1990|Charles Solomon

CONTEMPORARY WOMEN WRITERS: Hong Kong & Taiwan , edited by Eva Hung (Renditions Paperbacks: $9.50, illustrated). Women writers dominated Chinese fiction during the last decade, and these stories bracket the lives of women caught in the struggle between Western doctrines of equality and traditional Asian female roles. In "Persimmons," Peng Cao uses a young girl's cruel treatment of her old nurse as a metaphor for the cruelty of a society that forces aged women to work or starve. "Snow Fields" by Li Li contrasts the feelings of two pregnant women: One, compelled by her unfeeling husband to have an abortion, longs to cuddle a baby; the other helplessly contemplates the imminent murder of her young daughter by her in-laws, which will enable her to bear a boy under China's one-child policy. Compelling portraits of lives in transition.

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