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Genre: Non-fiction

From one of China’s most acclaimed and decorated writers comes a powerful first-person account of life in Wuhan during the COVID-19 outbreak and the toll of this deadly calamity on families and individual lives. On January 25, 2020, acclaimed Chinese writer Fang Fang began publishing an online diary to help herself and others understand what was happening in Wuhan, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak. Deeply personal and informative, her posts reveal in real-time the widespread impact of the virus and the government’s mandatory quarantine on the city’s residents. Each day, she gives voice to the fears, frustrations, anger, and hope of millions of ordinary Chinese, reflecting on the psychological impact of forced isolation, the role of the internet as both community lifeline and source of misinformation, and most tragically, the lives of neighbors and friends taken by the deadly virus. In a nation where authorities use technology to closely monitor citizens and tightly control the media, writers often self-censor. Yet the stark reality of this devastating situation drives Fang Fang to courageously speak out against social injustice, corruption, abuse, and the systemic political problems which impeded the response to the epidemic. For treading close to the line of “dissident,” she pays a price: the government temporarily shuts down her blog and deletes many of her published posts. A fascinating eyewitness account of events as they unfold, Wuhan Diary captures the challenges of daily life and the changing moods and emotions of being quarantined without reliable information. As Fang Fang documents the beginning of the global health crisis in real time, she illuminates how many of the countries dealing with the novel coronavirus pandemic have repeated similar patterns and mistakes. Blending the eerie and dystopian, the profound and the quotidian, Wuhan Diary is a remarkable record of our times and a unique look at life in confinement in an authoritarian nation.

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