Mourning a Breast

In stock - dispatches within 2-3 business days


In 1989, the Hong Kong cult classic writer Xi Xi was diagnosed with breast cancer and began writing in order to make sense of her diagnosis and treatment. Mourning a Breast, published two and a half years later, is a disarmingly honest and deeply personal account of the author's experience of a mastectomy and of her subsequent recovery.

The book opens with her gently rolling up a swimsuit. A beginning swimmer, she loves going to the pool, eavesdropping on conversations in the changing room, shopping for swimsuits. As this routine pleasure is revoked, the small loss stands in for the greater one. But Xi Xi's mourning begins to take shape as a form of activism. In a conversational, even humorous, manner, she describes her previous blinkered life of the mind before she came into her body and learned its language.

Addressing her reader as frankly and unashamedly as an old friend, she coaxes and confesses, confronts society's failings, and advocates for a universal literacy of the body. Mourning a Breast was heralded as the first Chinese-language book to cast off the stigma of writing about illness and to expose the myths associated with breast cancer. A radical and generous book about creating in the midst of mourning.

'Using language that was deceptively simple, almost childlike, Xi Xi infused her fiction and poetry with eclectic references to literature, cinema, art, architecture and fairy tales...Her work captured the unease of Hong Kong's transition to Chinese rule, gave voice to the city's children and working-class residents, and helped put it on the literary map.' -New York Times