CHINA BORN: The Adventures of a Maverick Bookman by Henry Noyes

CHINA BORN: The Adventures of a Maverick Bookman

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The founder of China Books & Periodicals (which is publishing this memoir) here gives a thoughtful and sometimes moving account of his childhood in Canton and of his later life as a China-born westerner. Noyes begins with a collection of child's-eye impressions. But his strongest memory from those years is of the death of his grandfather, a missionary who had started a middle school near Canton. ""He was a model of wisdom and kindness for me to imitate,"" Noyes writes, ""a father figure even more important than my father himself."" In 1919, at the age of ten, Noyes left China along with his family (his mother's ill health made the move necessary). He went to high school in Toronto, earned a Ph.D. in English at the Univ. of London, and worked as a teacher and a machince-shop steward in the US. In 1959 he was offered, through a contact at a Chicago bookstore, the opportunity to import publications from the People's Republic of China and distribute them in the US. Thus was born China Books & Periodicals, which would become a conduit for such titles as Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong, the notorious ""little red book."" Noyes' business activities eventually allowed him to return to China, where at times he felt more like an ""overseas Chinese"" than like a visiting westerner. He made two trips, in 1975 and 1984; during the second he was invited to address an audience of publishing people in the Great Hall in Beijing. The speeach was ""a peak moment in my life,"" he writes. Most absorbing when Noyes focuses on the huge changes that have taken place in China over the past few decades; overall, of interest, although slow-moving during those extended discussions of Noyes' family tree and some long-winded political arguments.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1989
Publisher: China Books