BLOOD RED SUNSET by Ma Bo

BLOOD RED SUNSET

A Memoir of the Chinese Cultural Revolution
by
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A sensationalist autobiographical account by a former Red Guard of his exile and victimization in Inner Mongolia during the last years of the Cultural Revolution. The story begins in 1968 when Ma Bo, a Red Guard student, left his home in Beijing for the Injgan Sum region to bring the revolution to the Inner Mongolian steppes. He soon found himself in trouble with the local party authorities. Having been summarily arrested, tortured, jailed, and betrayed by his best friend, he was branded a counterrevolutionary, which also earned him discrimination and ostracism by his fellow Red Guards. But his plight was not caused by any irreconcilable conflicts between revolutionary idealism and the crude reality of party careerism; nor was it the result of the painful disenchantment of a hapless pawn lost in the power games of some distant party leaders. He got his ticket because he, a skillful martial artist, we are told, had the tendency to get into rowdy brawls. And whereas he was preoccupied with his lone struggle to reverse his verdict, almost a good half of the memoir, which is generously dabbed with needless profanity and scatology, is devoted to the author's not surprisingly unrequited obsession with a female student. Now that the Cultural Revolution (196676) is almost 20 years removed, one expects that the passage of time would demand from anyone who looks back to those tragic years a perspective that goes beyond the easy (though understandable) habit of accusation. But in Ma Bo's memoir, the Cultural Revolution as history looks incidental. Readers who expect a memoir to rise above itself to give testimony to an epoch will be disappointed by this visceral exhibition of personal exploits.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-670-84181-1
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1995




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