This extraordinary autobiographical story, compelling, candid, and deeply personal, plunges us into that tumultuous moment in China out of which the modern People’s Republic finally emerged. It is the first time a novelist has ever described that distant world in words that open it up to Western readers in the clearest, most vivid terms.
Shanghai, 1949: we look through the eyes of Guan Ling-ling, a headstrong, idealistic seventeen-year-old. As her family departs for Hong Kong, Ling-ling boldly chooses to stay, and joins a revolutionary theater group which soon leaves the city to carry out the new reforms in the Chinese countryside. After a scant few weeks’ preparation, this city-bred schoolgirl suddenly finds herself in one of China’s most remote and impoverished areas, a world so far from her own experience that she can barely understand the lives she has been sent to change.