A rich and insightful coming-of-age story of not only a woman, but an artist and the country in which she was born.

NINE CONTINENTS

A MEMOIR IN AND OUT OF CHINA

A gripping memoir about growing up in—and leaving—China, from one of Britain's most acclaimed young novelists.

Guo (I Am China, 2014, etc.) spent most of her childhood unwanted: first, by parents who gave her away to a peasant couple, and later, by those adopted parents, who returned her as a sickly 2-year-old child to ailing, illiterate grandparents in a struggling fishing village. Poor, emaciated, and uneducated, Guo experienced a harsh childhood scraping by on rice porridge and the promise a Taoist monk made to her and her grandmother: "The girl is a peasant warrior….She will cross the sea and travel the Nine Continents." When the author’s parents came to reclaim her following her grandfather's suicide, her long and often heartbreaking journey to making that prediction come true began. In the communist compound of Wenling, she lived as the "unwanted one," beaten by her mother, ignored by her older brother, and abused by her community. Her love of art kept her going until she landed a coveted spot at the prestigious Beijing Film Academy. However, even in a city overflowing with culture and rebellion, oppression and censorship reigned supreme, and it wasn't until a scholarship from England granted Guo the opportunity to leave China that she was able to find artistic and personal freedom. After a decade abroad, the birth of her daughter forced her to return home to confront her family and the tragedies of her past. In evocative, captivating prose that reads like fiction, Guo brings to life her lifelong struggles against the chains of poverty, gender, and censorship. A talented wordsmith, she unabashedly lays bare her personal history with raw emotion and unflinching honesty, and she is unafraid to express her anger, disappointment, or joy at every turn.

A rich and insightful coming-of-age story of not only a woman, but an artist and the country in which she was born.

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8021-2713-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Grove

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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