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A Chinese Life Paperback – September 1, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams (September 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906838550
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906838553
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #443,952 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* This poignant graphic memoir is an intimate yet sweeping account of the convulsive development of modern China, as seen through the pen of Li, a longtime artist for a Communist Party newspaper in Yunnan, and in collaboration with French writer Ôtié. Li was a youngster in the late 1950s when his country embarked on the Great Leap Forward, resulting in millions dying of starvation, followed by the Cultural Revolution, when millions more were persecuted, imprisoned, relocated, or, like Li’s father, sent away for reeducation. The deprivations the nation faced during those turbulent two decades make China’s subsequent turn to unfettered capitalism—which Li depicts in all its crass rapaciousness—all the more remarkable. Motivated by the twisted patriotism that gripped the nation, Li joined the military, which led to his becoming a government propaganda artist and then cartoonist for a provincial party newspaper. His engrossing, affecting chronicle introduces the West to a masterful graphic storyteller; his expressive drawings and command of narrative effectively and movingly convey this extraordinary epoch. Much has been written about China’s devastating postwar era and its recent modernization, but the vividness of the comics medium, especially in the hands of as skilled a practitioner as Li, gives this rendition a unique power. --Gordon Flagg

About the Author

Li Kunwu has had more than 30 of his comics published in the three decades he’s worked as a state artist. He lives in Kunming, Yunnan, China. Philippe Ôtié is a French diplomat who lives in Wuhan, China.


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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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This graphic novel is more than a comic.
Carlos J Vivas
As is stated in the preface, one of the goals of creating this graphic novel was to make modern Chinese history accessible, and it certainly meets its goal.
amei
And it is within this collision that so much of the power of the story is found.
Daniel Elkin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By amei on January 23, 2013
Format: Paperback
I was given this book as a gift and has been an incredibly useful volume as part of my own research into 20th century Chinese history. As is stated in the preface, one of the goals of creating this graphic novel was to make modern Chinese history accessible, and it certainly meets its goal. A non-Chinese acquaintance who read it was simply floored by the events that took place in China not long ago, and he used the word "accessible" to describe the book. I found it a unique historical account, being intimately pictorial, filling in details about a largely darkened time that written words alone can't encompass. I think the Chinese/French collaboration between the two authors bridges several worlds of story-telling--east and west, old and new--into an attractive and well-paced book. You feel like you are there. Li Kunwu is honest about his conflicting feelings about China up until the present day, and for me it was another insight into the mixed emotions that a huge chunk of the world's population must be harboring. Not to mention the unfathomable, rapid-fire contradictions that riddle the country. This book also appears to be more evidence that the psychological times are changing in China as the personal experiences of the Red Guards, the millions of fanatic teenagers from the 1960s, are finally being aired. "It was a different time back then" is a complicated, multi-faceted blanket statement that nations have to examine carefully when horrendous things happen, see WW2 Germany for example. The people who once made up the youthful Red Guards are mostly alive and well today, but very few talk openly about it. Our western psychotherapy paradigm may not be what China needs to process their past, but it does humanity a service to become conscious of these massive historical events, to give them a context, and possibly to allow nations and/or individuals to heal. This graphic novel brilliantly and candidly falls into that role.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a teacher of modern Chinese History, I cannot recommend this graphic novel too much both in terms of its content and the arresting quality of its graphic art. I have read few things that conveyed so well the tremendous changes endured (and also enjoyed) by the Chinese people over the last 64 years.
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By Carlos J Vivas on October 13, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This graphic novel is more than a comic. It's a historic document. The explanation about the chinese life is awesome, also, the drawing style is unique. Five stars rating.
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Format: Paperback
I highly recommend this graphic novel, which tells the story of one man's life set against the dramatically changing backdrop of 20th century China. It conveys so much information about Chinese history and the variety of turbulent events endured by modern Chinese people; but at the same time it is a specific, poetic, often emotionally wrenching story of an individual. It's really, really good.
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