Xinran Xue was born in Beijing, China in 1958, a time of great suffering, separation, and starvation.
Xinran was fortunate in that it was her grandmother who cared for her, as 1958-1961 was possibly the worst famine in world history in China. Though Xinran herself did have food enough to eat and a grandmother to care for her, she did not know of anything like a mother;
In 1966 Xinran moved in with her parents and two-year-old brother for the first time since her birth,
1966 to 1976 Xinran and her younger brother were wards of a state that never passed up a chance to chastise and mock them for, in essence, not being born poor.
In the army school it was Xinran’s good fortune that a kind teacher gave her a key to a secret world. Behind the school was a dark shed with newspaper-covered windows. Within the thin walls of the shed were hidden many shelves of books
Within the pages of those prohibited treasures Xinran read of Cosette’s young life lived in fear and poverty in Les Miserables and she watched with delight as Cosette’s life of drudgery transformed into a beautiful life rich in joy and love. Cosette’s tale is a heroic one, bolstering young Xinran’s determination.
Xinran developed a belief in heroes, a belief in the necessity of perseverance, a belief in the power of love. And though she yet yearns for a mother’s love that cannot be reclaimed, she is able to face life’s hardships, to accomplish her goals, to dream, because of her resolve to never give up.
In 1976, when Xinran was 18 years old, the family was joined together for the first time in over a decade, but none of the past inequities were spoken of, leaving a void of unanswered questions to weigh heavy on Xinran as she began her studies at the military university. She spent the next twelve years at the university and in 1989 embarked on a journey that would provide salve for millions of scarred hearts still beating in China’s women; women who had either been forced to abandon their children, or women who had been abandoned as children. It was then that Xinran Xue became one of China’s first female radio show presenters, with her program Words on the Night Breeze, in Nanjing.
She moved to the U.K. in 1997. and compiled a book, The Good Women of China, sending those stories out to readers around the world, possibly taking a chance that sharing all those memories would lesson the pains suffered by the women of China.
In the U.K., Xinran began working for The Guardian Newspaper, while continuing with her writing career. Her first book, The Good Women of China (2002)was followed by a novel, Sky Burial (2004), then she went on to write four more nonfiction titles: What the Chinese Don’t Eat (2006), Miss Chopsticks (2007) China Witness: Voices From a Silent Generation (2008),and Message From an Unknown Chinese Mother (2010).In 2004 Xinran began a charity for China’s orphans, The Mother’s Bridge of Love, not only as a way to build a bridge between adoptive children and birth cultures, helping to ease the fears and frustrations that children and parents encounter in cross culture adoptions, but also as a means of aiding relations between peoples of the East and the West.
Xinran spends much of her time traveling to the 27 countries known to adopt children from China, each time adding a new friendship to further close the gap by sharing her knowledge and to gain understanding of both a mother’s and a child’s heart. Mother’s Bridge of Love is currently spearheading a unique program which focuses on building picture-book libraries throughout China’s villages and countryside.