Novelist Liang (Paper Butterfly, 2009, etc.) recounts the events of the 1989 massacre at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.
First published in 1993, Liang’s debut memoir is scheduled for publication in the United States in time for the 20th anniversary of the event. Starting with her early childhood spent in labor camps, Liang paints a vivid picture of life during the Cultural Revolution. Her intellectual parents were forced to work on a construction site while everywhere people suffered public beatings, prison terms and executions at the slightest questioning of party loyalty. Universities were closed and progressive thought was banned. After the labor camps were shut down, the author’s parents were forced to live apart for more than a decade because of differing permits of residence. Growing up without her father, Liang endured constant beatings and harassment from her fellow students. Despite membership in the Communist party, her parents were intellectuals and not peasants, for which she and her younger sister suffered greatly. When the Cultural Revolution ended, universities reopened and Liang was able to enter Beijing University during a relatively liberal period. She joined in student demonstrations for freedom of speech and democracy while experiencing friendships, love and heartbreak. When the government intervened with the declaration of martial law in Beijing, the city was taken under siege. Early in the morning on June 4, 1989, tanks rolled in and opened fire on the peaceful protestors, killing thousands. Devastated by the massacre and fearful for her life, Liang was able to escape to America. Returning seven years later, she came face-to-face with the ghosts of that day and of her past life.
Simple prose creates powerful imagery as the author examines how political oppression has shaped China and the lives of its people.