Summary of I Am Fan Yusu

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“We are all Fan Yusu,” floated around China’s WeChat and Weibo for a time. But where did this phrase come from, and who is the real Fan Yusu? Millions have read her essay, but Fan, a modest middle-aged woman, “never dreamed of changing her destiny with a pen.” Her guileless essay isn’t a diatribe against oppression, nor is it an indictment against the Chinese Party, but it does touch on the way that policy affects normal people. Fan has since hidden from the limelight, but her essay has moved those who’ve read it and will likely remain in the public consciousness for years to come.

About the Author

Fan Yusu is a Chinese migrant worker whose essay went viral in China. She has since left her home to avoid journalists and remains hidden from the public eye.



Fan Yusu was born in Xiangyang in Hubei, one of five siblings – none of them “worry-free.” Her eldest sister got meningitis shortly after her birth and was developmentally delayed. Fan’s mother pursued every hope of healing the sister – including spiritual gurus, medical doctors and talismans – but nothing worked and her disabilities persisted into adulthood. Her next sister had polio, and also required medical care, an expense that was difficult for the impoverished family to bear. Fan’s oldest brother had literary aspirations; the family pinned their hopes on their eldest son and shuttled their meager resources to him, but he never became a writer. Her next brother graduated from college and became an official but by age 40 fell into gambling, lost his position and spent his time pacing the Han River bridge. His mother, supportive as she’d been with all of her children, comforted him by saying, “you’re not dead, the debt is not bad, there’s nothing to be afraid of – just keep on living a good life.”

Fan’s parents fought often, and her father did little to help the family, but Fan’s mother was...

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