Daughter of Good Fortune

A Twentieth-Century Chinese Peasant Memoir

Chen Huiqin
With Shehong Chen
Introduction by Delia Davin

  • Published: April 2015
  • Subject Listing: Asian Studies / China; Biography, Autobiography, and Memoir
  • Bibliographic information: 336 pp., 30 b and w illus., 2 maps, 5.5 x 8.5 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Contents

Daughter of Good Fortune tells the story of Chen Huiqin and her family through the tumultuous 20th century in China. She witnessed the Japanese occupation during World War II, the Communist Revolution in 1949 and its ensuing Land Reform, the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, and the Reform Era. Chen was born into a subsistence farming family, became a factory worker, and lived through her village's relocation to make way for economic development. Her family's story of urbanization is representative of hundreds of millions of rural Chinese.
Chen Huiqin was born in 1931 in Wang Family Village, in Jiading Country near Shanghai, and now lives on her ancestral land. Shehong Chen is associate professor of history at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. She is the author of Being Chinese, Becoming Chinese American. Delia Davin is emeritus professor of Chinese studies at the University of Leeds. She is the author of Woman Work: Women and the Party in Revolutionary China.

"This is a smoothly written and richly detailed memoir that reflects the changes in peasant life in the Shanghai suburbs from the 1930s to the present."
-Gail Hershatter, author of The Gender of Memory: Rural Women and China's Collective Past

"Daughter of Good Fortune illustrates the immense changes rural people have experienced since the founding of the PRC through today. It really is a worthy sequel to the classic account of peasant life in pre-communist China, Daughter of Han."
-Jeremy Brown, author of City Versus Countryside in Mao's China

Preface and Acknowledgments by Shehong Chen
Introduction by Delia Davin

1. Ancestral Home
2. War and Revolution
3. Benefiting from the New Marriage Law
4. Rushing into Collective Life
5. The Great Leap Forward
6. "No Time for Meals All Year Round"
7. Years of Ordeal
8. Reaching Beyond Peasant Life
9. Changes in the Family
10. Farewell to Collective Life
11. Rural Customs and Urban Life
12. A House-Purchasing Frenzy
13. Crossing Borders and Leaving the Ancestral Village
14. Between the Living and the Dead
15. All Our Children Are "Plump Seeds"
16. Return to Ancestral Land


"A faithful and meticulous transcription of her mother's narrative. . . She has done a great service not only to Chen Huiqin, but also to readers who would like to understand the transformation of village life currently underway in China."
-Richard King, Pacific Affairs