Thursday, February 03, 2011

Happy Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year? Already?  I just took down the tree.  So it goes.  The Year of the Rabbit is upon us.  With that in mind, here are a few books by Chinese authors or about China.

First, the slim novel, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie.  Sijie is a filmmaker who was 're-educated' by the Mao regime and this tale of love and books will move you.

Next, two memoirs of growing up during the Cultural Revolution both by Da Chen.  Colors of the Mountain is the story of how Chen went from rural farmboy to being the first from his village to attend university.  Sounds of the River picks up as he arrives at the Beijing Language Institute.  Expecting a new and easier life, he encounters hardships of a far different kind.  His strength, wisdom and belief in himself allowed him to succeed.  He went on to study at Columbia University and lives here in the States.  These are great rags-to-riches stories and Chen writes with a beautiful voice. 

Daniel Levy's Two-Gun Cohen was my kind of guy.  A Cockney pickpocket and con artist, he fled England for Western Canada where he was appalled by the treatment of the Chinese hired to build the railroads.  He became such a friend and advocate, it led to Cohen becoming no less than the bodyguard of Sun Yat-Sen, the founding father of the Chinese Republic.  Morris Cohen's later life turned for the worst but Levy has written a fascinating book about an unlikely hero.  

Matthew Polly's American Shaolin was great fun when I read it in 2007.  You can read my post about it here:

And since it is the Year of the Rabbit, perhaps it's time to re-read Watership Down and watch a few Bugs Bunny cartoons.  

Gong xi fa cai

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