A Novel Of One Family Trapped By The Events At Tiananmen Sqaure
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The author of The Flower-Drum Song (1956), as well as the recent pulp novel China Saga (1987), works up the events leading up to and surrounding Tiananmen Square into a family saga. Useful as a trot through the past 15 years or so of Chinese modernization and repression, but formulaic and clumsy as fiction. Charles Hong is a hotel tycoon who returns to China to see his son Jimmy, left behind in the 1940's. Settled in Hong Kong, Charles meets Jimmy (and his wife Do Do) for the first time. In the late 70's and early 80's, all's well: son and wife support Deng Xiaoping's modernization, and Charles is thinking about a hotel project in Beijing. The novel moves awkwardly and superficially through family logistics and byzantine commercial, political, and journalistic shenanigans. Charles meets an interior decorator who turns out to be a massage artist extraordinaire, while journalist Mark Hansen's assistant, Yun Mei, turns out to be a female spy. By 1986, the hotel has been beached amid a sea of red tape, and the freedom movement has gained momentum but is under attack by the corrupt elite, whose hard-line crackdown, of course, results in the Tiananmen Square debacle. Jimmy's wife is slain, and the suffering is terrible--witnessed for the reader mostly by Hansen, though the point of view jumps around at will. Finally, the novel moves into the mind of Deng himself, who, it seems, is a good guy who sleeps through the massacre on tranquilizers before ``tears wash down his leathery, round face. Nobody knew if the tears were for the students, or China, or himself. They knew that the three were all terrible tragedies.'' Fade-out. Not much insight here, but anyone interested in cardboard characters and a dramatized history lesson might give this one a try. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Publishers Weekly:
Though his prose is never more than serviceable, the author of Flower Drum Song has written a provocative novel which he opens with a flourish: in 1980, Charles Hong returns to China after 32 years to meet his son, Jimmy, for the first time. An American citizen, Charles had fled Mao's armies in 1948, knowing neither that his wife was pregnant nor that she would be unable to follow him. Now a Hong Kong hotel tycoon, Charles begins to invest in Deng Xiaoping's modernization programs as he becomes involved with Jimmy and his wife, Do Do, a politically active radio reporter. Lee gives a clear picture of complex family relations: the wife Charles left, now dead, had an illegitimate, half-Caucasian son; Charles has remarried, to a stunning, much younger woman whose motives are suspect, and they are parents to teenager Raymond. These characters are concerned with political developments, from the Open Door policy to the encouragement of free markets. But the pivotal figure here is Do Do, who becomes immersed in the crucial events leading up to the infamous massacre at Tiananmen Square. Lee slowly builds to this climactic bloodbath, but his hasty reconciliation of subplots detracts from the intensity of the brutal historic moment.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description William Morrow & Co, 1991. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0688097642
Book Description William Morrow & Co, 1991. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0688097642