The Rape of Nanking Background

The Rape of Nanking Background

Iris Chang is an American novelist born on March 28, 1968 in Princeton, New Jersey. She attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to study journalism and subsequently enrolled at Johns Hopkins University to earn her masters in Writing Seminars. Chang is known for her works which explore the struggle of Asians and Asian-Americans throughout history. Her first novel, Thread of the Silkworm, brings to light the life story of Hsue-Shen Tsien, a Chinese professor who was accused of being a Communist Spy during the Red Scare in the 1950s despite his immense contributions to the American government.

Chang’s most notable work is her second novel, The Rape of Nanking, which details the events of the Nanking Massacre, an attack by Japanese troops against the Republic of China. It was a 6-week ordeal that lasted from December 13, 1937 to January 1938 which resulted in the deaths of more than 300,000 people. Chang undoubtedly goes into great explicit detail of the atrocities of the event, but this is also one of her most glaring criticisms. As Kirkus Reviews states, Chang fails to create “a skillfully woven narrative” and instead recites “lifeless clumps of facts--catalogues of atrocities by kind; tiny summaries of topics of significant contextual interest, like foreign intelligence concerning the massacre; and probably gripping oral recollections flattened into clunky prose.”

Six years after the publication of The Rape of Nanking, Chang released another book entitled The Chinese in America (2003). She died in 2004.

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