This volume gathers personal reflections on life and literature by 44 of China's leading authors. It aims to illustrate how Chinese society and its creative writing have supported, competed and fought with each other for the past 40 years and more. Much of what is revealed here is mundane, but the pressure of bringing art to social and political causes, indeed the universal pressure to survive, forges this collection into a very human document. The strengths and weaknesses of these essays offer a window on those of modern Chinese literature itself. Realism was the favoured literary doctrine of the day, and, reflecting this, most of these essays speak for themselves - about war, revolution, betrayal and commitment.