Wuhan Diary Book Summary - Wuhan Diary Book explained in key points
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Wuhan Diary summary

Fang Fang

Dispatches from a Quarantined City

4 (55 ratings)
19 mins

Brief summary

Wuhan Diary by Fang Fang is a firsthand account of life in Wuhan during the COVID-19 pandemic. The author writes about her experiences, thoughts, and emotions as the city went into lockdown and the virus spread. The diary offers a unique perspective on this historic event.

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    Wuhan Diary
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    The government initially played down the crisis, so the quarantine order came as a shock. 

    Many people outside China first heard about the coronavirus pandemic in February 2020. But in Wuhan, people knew something was “up” much earlier.

    Wuhan, the capital of the Hubei Province in China, is one of the country’s largest industrial hubs. It’s also the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. 

    The key message here is: The government initially played down the crisis, so the quarantine order came as a shock. 

    Author Fang Fang has lived in Wuhan for over 60 years. She first heard rumors of a strange new virus in December 2019 – weeks before the rest of the world found out about it. The information was patchy since Chinese media is heavily censored. Privately, people had started sharing videos of the closed Huanan Seafood Market, where the virus first broke out. One online post claimed that this new pathogen was related to earlier SARS viruses. But for a long time, the official line was that people had nothing to worry about. 

    By January 10, intensive care beds in many hospitals were filling up with coronavirus patients. But the people of Wuhan remained in the dark. 

    The government sent two teams of specialists to investigate. They inspected the Wuhan Central Hospital, located closest to the seafood market. Afterward one of the specialists, Dr. Wang, made a public statement, describing the virus in eight fateful words. The virus, he said, was “not contagious between people, it’s controllable and preventable.” This would prove to be a tragic misconception. 

    The media never probed further. Instead, it followed the government’s official assessment of the situation. The press repeated Dr. Wang’s eight-word statement over and over. Journalists chronicled various mass events in the city – like a government banquet at which 40,000 people celebrated the New Year – without critique.

    The day after this banquet, infectious disease specialist Dr. Zhong Nanshan revealed that the virus could be transmitted between people after all. By then, the government could no longer conceal the severity of the situation. To stop the spread of the virus, the authorities ordered a complete lockdown of the city beginning on January 23. For many people in Wuhan, the quarantine order came as a confirmation of their worst fears. 

    The author remembers the panic she felt over the first few days of the lockdown. Along with 11 million other Wuhanese, she was stuck at home. For weeks, she would have nothing to do – except write about her new experience. 

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    What is Wuhan Diary about?

    Wuhan Diary (2020) is a collection of online essays by celebrated Chinese writer Fang Fang. They were published daily throughout Wuhan’s 76-day coronavirus lockdown. A fascinating and intimate report from the frontline, this diary chronicles the very beginnings of the pandemic that soon swept the world.

    Wuhan Diary Review

    Wuhan Diary (2020) by Fang Fang gives a firsthand account of the COVID-19 outbreak and its impact on Wuhan and its people. This book is worth reading because:

    • It offers a unique perspective on the pandemic, showcasing the resilience and strength of the people amidst challenging circumstances.
    • The author's honest and raw reflections provide a personal connection to the events, making it a deeply empathetic and moving read.
    • With its detailed observations and intimate storytelling, the book sheds light on the reality of lockdowns, fear, and social solidarity.

    Best quote from Wuhan Diary

    One speck of dust from an entire era may not seem like much, but when it falls on your head its like a mountain crashing on you.

    —Fang Fang
    example alt text

    Who should read Wuhan Diary?

    • People interested in Chinese culture and politics
    • Those who enjoy eyewitness accounts of major world events
    • Anyone curious about the origins of COVID-19

    About the Author

    Fang Fang is one of Wuhan’s most famous living writers. She was born into Mao’s China in 1955 and came of age during the Cultural Revolution. She has published nearly 100 books including novels, short stories, and a collection of essays. Fang Fang is a recipient of the Lu Xun Literary Prize and the Chinese Literature and Communications Prize for Outstanding Writer. 

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    Wuhan Diary FAQs 

    What is the main message of Wuhan Diary?

    The main message of Wuhan Diary is an honest and intimate account of life during the COVID-19 pandemic in Wuhan, China.

    How long does it take to read Wuhan Diary?

    The reading time for Wuhan Diary varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Wuhan Diary a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Wuhan Diary is a captivating read that provides a unique perspective on the pandemic. It offers a raw and personal account that is both informative and thought-provoking.

    Who is the author of Wuhan Diary?

    The author of Wuhan Diary is Fang Fang.