Growing Up in the Cultural Revolution
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 This graphic account of the horrors of the Chinese Cultural Revolution will put to rest any remaining romantic notions about Chairman Mao. First published in France in 1989, the book recounts the author's life in a ``bourgeois'' family (her grandfather was a banker, her parents actors). Born just days before Mao declared the Cultural Revolution in 1966, Niu-Niu was four when armed Red Guards invaded her home and took her parents to a reeducation camp as punishment for their unspecified ``counter-revolutionary'' crimes; she did not see them again for eight years. The girl found refuge with her grandparents, who were the subject of local Communist Party criticism meetings that took the form of beatings. Her grandfather was finally beaten to death, and young Niu-Niu was derided in her neighborhood and at school as the ``child of criminals.'' She and her grandmother had so little food that the child took to stealing to supplement their diet. The outcast Niu- Niu became a member of a children's gang involved in a wide array of petty theft; she was continually in trouble with the authorities. Once her parents were allowed to return home after the official end of the Cultural Revolution, she shaped up long enough to pass her exams and enter a Beijing university specializing in film production. Niu-Niu's constant rebellion against the school's efforts to make students conform to the Communist Party line ultimately led to her expulsion. Her perseverance and courage in the face of tyranny will overwhelm readers. The book ends with her departure from China for a new life in France with a French citizen she later married. (They are now divorced.) The excellent translation does justice to this remarkable story. An important depiction of recent Chinese history too quickly being forgotten in the rush to seek trade with China.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-89733-410-8
Page count: 285pp
Publisher: Academy Chicago
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1994


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