Sunday, March 24, 2013

Broken Fact: Fu Ping's Early Travels

The Original Story:
On Page 3 of Bent, Not Break, Fu Ping reflects on her life as she is flying to America for the first time:
I had never traveled anywhere outside of China. The farthest I had been from Nanjing, the city of my birth, was Suzhou University, where I had studied journalism and literature.
The Debunking:
Fu Ping spent a sizable portion of her book telling us that she grew up in Shanghai until she was 8 years old. During that time, she had traveled between Shanghai and Nanjing quite a few times, as on Page 22:
My nanny had even taken me on this very train to visit Nanjing a few times, though it had been a while since our last trip.
Even after she had settled in Nanjing, she was able to travel to Shanghai a few times (Page 118):
I saw Shanghai Mama and Papa a few times during the Cultural Revolution. The first time was after receiving the letter from Shanghai Mama in 1967, about nine months after I had been sent to Nanjing. Homesickness had overwhelmed me. Trains and buses were free for anyone to ride, and some days there were no struggle or study sessions. I was too young to understand the danger, so I sneaked off to Shanghai one day.
Later on she would be attending Suzhou University and presumably traveled by the same train between Nanjing and Suzhou.

By the time she reflected on her life on that flight. She was already 25 years old and had traveled on the same train route numerous times. She would have to know that Suzhou is between Nanjing and Shanghai. If the farthest she had ever traveled from Nanjing was Suzhou, that means she had never been to Shanghai at all!

In an interview with International Herald Tribune this February, Fu Ping was quoted in blaming her coauthor Meimei Fox for a series of mistakes in her book. In particular, she said of Meimei Fox: "She doesn't know China's geography."

Perhaps. But the paragraph on top is not a background perspective involving geography. It is what was going on in Fu Ping's head. Did Meimei Fox completely make it up or did Fu Ping have a slip in her own mind?

1 comment:

  1. Ping Fu wrote in her book that she also traveled to the countryside for her infanticide research.
    How far did she go?