Her account has recently drawn bitter condemnation from zealous Chinese nationalists who have called plans to publish a translation in English an effort to malign the government and undermine the heroic image of Wuhan. Fang Fang, who uses her pen name rather than her birth name, Wang Fang, said that she did not want to be cast as either a cheerleader for the government, or as a reflexively embittered critic. She called herself a witness, highlighting the bravery of doctors, street cleaners and neighbors helping neighbors, while vowing to hold to account officials who let the virus spread.
“If authors have any responsibilities in the face of disaster, the greatest of them is to bear witness,” she said in an interview. “I’ve always cared about how the weak survive great upheavals. The individuals who are left out — they’ve always been my chief concern.”