Jan Wong, a Canadian of Chinese descent, went to China as a starry-eyed Maoist in 1972 at the height of the Cultural Revolution. A true believer--and one of only two Westerners permitted to enroll at Beijing University--her education included wielding a pneumatic drill at the Number One Machine Tool Factory. In the name of the Revolution, she renounced rock and roll, hauled pig manure in the paddy fields, and turned in a fellow student who sought her help in getting to the United States. She also met and married the only American draft dodger from the Vietnam War to seek asylum in China.
Red China Blues begins as Wong's startling--and ironic--memoir of her rocky six-year romance with Maoism that began to sour as she became aware of the harsh realities of Chinese communism and led to her eventual repatriation to the West. Returning to China in the late eighties as a journalist, she covered both the brutal Tiananmen Square crackdown and the tumultuous era of capitalist reforms under Deng Xiaoping. In a wry, absorbing, and often surreal narrative, she relates the horrors that led to her disillusionment with the "worker's paradise." And through the stories of the people--an un-happy young woman who was sold into marriage, China's most famous dissident, a doctor who lengthens penises--Wong creates an extraordinary portrait of the world's most populous nation. In setting out to show readers in the Western world what life is like in China, and why we should care, Wong reacquaints herself with the old friends--and enemies--of her radical past, and comes to terms with the legacies of her ancestral homeland.
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"With her unique perspective, Jan Wong has given us front row seats at Mao's theater of the absurd. It is hard not to laugh and cry...this book will become a classic, a must-read for anyone interested in China." --Fox Butterfield, The New York Times
"This superb memoir is like no other account of life in China under both Mao and Deng...Her description of the events at Tiananmen Square, which occurred on her watch, is, like the rest of the book, unique, powerful and moving." --Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Immensely entertaining and enlightening...tellingly detailed recollections of the journeys of an observant and engaged traveller through interesting times." --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)From the Back Cover:
"A marvellous book by one of Canada’s best-ever foreign correspondents at the top of her form." - The Gazette (Montreal)
"Totally captivating. A wonderful memoir." - The Globe and Mail
"A lovely read. One can only hope this book is the first of many." - The Financial Post
"A must-read for all China watchers." - The Edmonton Journal
"A splendid memoir: funny, self-mocking, biting and perceptive." - The Washington Post
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