THE COLDEST WINTER IN PEKING by Chih-Yen Hsia

THE COLDEST WINTER IN PEKING

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Crammed with fact, some of it so finely factional as to be bewildering to a Westerner, this half-fantasy scenario of popular democratic revolt in modern China is just barely interested in being fiction: the made-up characters are dropped in, like in egg-drop-soup, and quickly stirred around with real ones, the faster to disappear into the historical churn. Mao has died, so widow Chiang Ch'ing and her ""gang of four"" back a Militia attempt to overthrow the central Party government, which in turn is thwarted by a democratic third-column of disenfranchised intellectuals and working class opposed to both the bloody Militia and the cushyness of the central Party. Now living and publishing in Japan, ""dissident"" Hsia Chih-Yen dissents more from a faithful partisanship to the late Chou-en Lai than a Solzhenitsyn-style outright rejection of the Chinese political reality; but his liberalism does consistently reveal the Byzantine political machinations, the popular unrest, the resentment of Western visitors, the black marketeering, the enduring feudalism, and the deaths--thousands and thousands, unreported in the West--that we never know of here. Negligible as story-telling, often confusing despite its appended charts of political organization and hierarchy, Hsia's book still has the virtue of hints made into clues, clues made into understanding.

Pub Date: June 16th, 1978
Publisher: Doubleday