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Spider Eaters: A Memoir

Yang, R�

296 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0520204808 / ISBN 13: 9780520204805
Published by University of California Press
Used Condition: Good
From Campus Bookstore (Fayetteville, AR, U.S.A.)

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Title: Spider Eaters: A Memoir

Publisher: University of California Press

Book Condition:Good

About this title

Synopsis:

Spider Eaters is at once a moving personal story, a fascinating family history, and a unique chronicle of political upheaval told by a Chinese woman who came of age during the turbulent years of the Cultural Revolution. With stunning honesty and a lively, sly humor, Rae Yang records her life from her early years as the daughter of Chinese diplomats in Switzerland, to her girlhood at an elite middle school in Beijing, to her adolescent experience as a Red Guard and later as a laborer on a pig farm in the remote northern wilderness. She tells of her eventual disillusionment with the Maoist revolution, how remorse and despair drove her almost to suicide, and how she struggled to make sense of conflicting events that often blurred the line between victim and victimizer, aristocrat and peasant, communist and counterrevolutionary. Moving gracefully between past and present, dream and reality, the author artfully conveys the vast complexity of life in China as well as the richness, confusion, and magic of her own inner life and struggle.

Much of the power of the narrative derives from Yang's multi-generational, cross-class perspective. She invokes the myths, legends, folklore, and local customs that surrounded her and brings to life the many people who were instrumental in her life: her nanny, a poor woman who raised her from a baby and whose character is conveyed through the bedtime tales she spins; her father; her beloved grandmother, who died as a result of the political persecution she suffered.

Spanning the years from 1950 to 1980, Rae Yang's story is evocative, complex, and told with striking candor. It is one of the most immediate and engaging narratives of life in post-1949 China.

Review:

Born in 1950, Rae Yang came of age in a time of tremendous social upheaval in her native China. Her parents, Communist intellectuals who had been in favor with the leadership, were denounced during the so-called anti-Rightist campaigns of the 1950s. During the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s Yang, a Red Guard, traveled throughout the country spreading revolutionary fever--an exciting period, she recalls, that she had much time to reflect on while later working at a collectivized pig farm. (She named the pigs under her charge, she writes: Capitalist, Prince, Natasha, and so on.) Disillusioned by the violence, repression, and hardship all around her, Yang eventually managed to leave China on a student visa for the United States. "Lies, big and small, cannot easily hypnotize me," she writes, and her memoir paints an honest portrait of a China in suffering.

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