NIEN CHENG by Robin Langley Sommer


Prisoner in China
Age Range: 9 - 14
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 In ``The Library of Famous Women,'' the experiences of a wealthy Chinese woman, imprisoned (1966-73) during the Cultural Revolution. Cheng has written a lengthy adult book (Life and Death in Shanghai, 1987) about these events; the New York Times called it ``an absorbing story of resourcefulness and courage,'' while the Christian Science Monitor marveled at ``an indefatigable woman struggling to maintain her pride, dignity, sanity, and faith.'' Sommer's simple portrait is in the same vein, outlining the frightening arrest by angry young members of the Red Guard, the irrational questioning, Cheng's steadfast refusal to confess, her daughter's ``suicide'' (actually murder) when she too was imprisoned, Cheng's deteriorating health, torture, and eventual release. In 1978, she was ``officially rehabilitated'' and allowed to travel to the US, where she remains. Focusing on the details of the cruel injustice, Sommer barely sketches Cheng's earlier life or the troubled times, condemning the regime and its vicious acts but giving no real sense of the Cultural Revolution as part of the ongoing political picture. Photos are mostly of public figures and events; those of Cheng show a pretty, obviously privileged young woman and a strikingly wise- and intelligent-looking older one. A story worth telling, but in need of more context. Bibliography (general works, plus Cheng's book); index. (Biography. 9-14)

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 1-56711-011-8
Page count: 64pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1992