Logs in the Time of Coronavirus: Online Diaries by Five Chinese Women Writers from Wuhan, New York, and Xi’an

Howard Y. F. Choy*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


    This paper researches the role of journal keeping in the time of coronavirus from China to America, focusing on mainland and overseas Chinese women’s writings of this pandemic in the form of diary. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical tensions between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and United States of America (USA), this daily-based documentary genre appeared on the Internet and provided nuanced individual perspectives in contrast to the grand official narrative and stimulated heated debates. From Ai Xiaoming’s “Wuhan Diary” to Zhang Lan’s “New Yorkers in the Epidemic,” Dou Wanru’s “Notes on New York’s Epidemic” and Wang Ruochong’s “New York Epidemic Diary,” then to Jiang Xue’s “Chang’an Decameron,” I explore how these literary logs have recorded everyday activities and emotional changes during the outbreak, what personal stories of the disadvantaged and marginalized told us about the human cost and social impacts of the disaster beyond the governments’ grand narratives, and why they have become so popular and controversial. Relating the genre to gender, I select five women writers’ diaries that provide their readers with feminine perspectives of the plight. The phenomenon is worth studying as it demonstrates diary-writing as therapy against the trauma of the plague. The multifaceted mode of these writings is made possible by a prosaic style that not only contains a variety of contents but also embraces the voices from all walks of life in different tones, including those of the women writers themselves that negotiate their gender as well as ethnic identity in the difficult time of COVID-19.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)97-110
    Number of pages14
    JournalChinese Literature and Thought Today
    Issue number3-4
    Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2022


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