Though they chronicle life in a country that has witnessed extraordinary and often violent political, economic, and cultural change, the works are striking in their light and intimate tone. They include personal reminiscences of childhood, travel essays, and observations of village life and custom. Among the most prominent of the featured authors are Lu Xun, one of China's leading essayists in the period before World War II; Lao She, a novelist and playwright whose life spanned the period from the end of the Ch'ing dynasty to the peak of the Cultural Revolution; Zou Taofen, a journalist, political commentator, and publisher in pre-Maoist China; and Yu Qiuryu, one of the most provocative writers in contemporary China.
Cheng Mei was born in Xi'an City, Shaanxi Province, China. Following a secondary education delayed by China's Cultural Revolution, she earned an undergraduate degree at Shaanxi Normal University and an M.A. at the Xi'an Foreign Language Institute. She currently is assoicate professor of English at Xi Dian University. Her work has been widely published both within China and in translation abroad.