The tears start to flow the moment Marjorie Chan begins talking about the suicide of Iris Chang.
The late Chinese-American historian's 1997 book The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II is the inspiration for Chan's new play, Nanking Winter, which opens on Feb. 28 at Factory Theatre's Mainspace. A co-production of Nightwood Theatre and Cahoots Theatre Projects, it's directed by Ruth Madoc-Jones.
Chang's book documents the killing of 300,000 Chinese over a six-week period in Nanjing - then known as Nanking - in 1937-38, when the city was China's capital. It had been among the first books to expose Japanese wartime atrocities. Seven years later, while researching a documentary on U.S. military veterans who had suffered as prisoners of war under the Japanese, Chang, just 37, pulled her car off the road and shot herself - overwhelmed, it seems, by various emotional trauma.