From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. As a young student, award-winning Canadian journalist Wong (Red China Blues
) spent a year in Beijing on a foreign exchange program during the cultural revolution, and in this suspenseful, elegantly written book, she recounts her return to the city in an effort to find a former classmate she betrayed with grave consequences. As a fervent young Maoist eager to fit in with her compatriots, the author had voluntarily informed on Yin Luoyi, who had been interested in visiting America at a time when expressing approval for the imperialist running dogs could lead to expulsion, ostracism or worse; Yin was expelled from the school. Wong returns to a transformed Beijing. Gone is the semirural capital where the author's revolutionary course of study included bouts of hard labor and self criticism sessions. In its place are eight-lane expressways lit up like Christmas trees, shiny skyscrapers and the largest shopping mall in the world. Wong is a gifted storyteller, and hers is a deeply personal and richly detailed eyewitness account of China's journey to glossy modernity. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
In the 1970s, Wong, a Canadian student with idealized views of Communist China, got the opportunity to study at Beijing University. Swallowing Mao’s doctrine hook, line, and sinker, Wong turned in a fellow student, Yin Luoyi, after the girl approached her about finding a way to get to the United States. In 2006, Wong—now a married journalist with two sons—travels with her family to Beijing with the intention of finding Yin, not an easy task in a country where people routinely change their phone numbers—and even their names. The journey takes Wong back into her past, as she reconnects with teachers and fellow students from Beijing University, and gives her a glimpse into the way the Chinese are rapidly and eagerly embracing capitalism and technology. It couldn’t have been easy for Wong to write a book about a shameful act from her youth, but she approaches the subject with courage, grace, and dignity, offering readers fresh insights into China and her people during the Cultural Revolution and today. --Kristine Huntley