The Bathing Women

A Novel

The Bathing Women

Translated by: Hongling Zhang and Jason Sommer
A Simon & Schuster eBook. Simon & Schuster has a great book for every reader.

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Bathing Women includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


The Bathing Women follows the lives of four young women in China: sisters Tiao and Fan, and their friends Fei and Youyou. Children during the Cultural Revolution, they come of age in the years that China opens to the West. Each is deeply affected by Mao’s policies, and by the childhood death of Tiao’s half-sister, Quan. Despite the guilty secrets that bind them together, they find real strength in each other as they grow, fall in and out of love, and struggle to find their way in the world.  

Topics & Questions for Discussion 

1. The Bathing Women opens with Tiao contemplating the strange intersection of modern technology and old ways, as embodied by a girl on a bike. How is this intersection shown throughout the novel? How do the different characters handle the sweeping changes in China?
2. Despite moving to the countryside at a very young age, Tiao always considers herself a Beijinger. What does it mean to her to be from the city?
3. There are three major incide see more

About the Author

Tie Ning

Tie Ning won a national short story award at the age of twenty-five and is the recipient of numerous other literary prizes. She has published ten books—collections of short fiction, essays, and novels—three of which were made into movies and television series, including The Bathing Women. In 2006, at the age of forty-nine, she was elected president of the Chinese Writers Association, becoming the youngest writer and first woman to be honored in this way. Her works have been translated into Russian, German, French, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Danish, Norwegian, and Vietnamese. The Bathing Women is her first work to be translated into English.