Hong Ying's Daughter of the River is a remarkable book--a memoir of China unlike any we have seen before. Acclaimed around the world, it is both a compelling self-portrait by a remarkable writer and an unforgettable expose of life at the bottom of Chinese society.
Hong Ying was born during the Great Famine of the early 1960s, which claimed the lives of tens of millions, including several of her relatives. Growing up in a slum on the bank of the Yangtze River, in a neighborhood veiled in fog and superstition, she was constantly aware of the sacrifices her family made so that she would survive. And as she neared her eighteenth birthday, she became determined to unravel some of the enigmas that had troubled her all her life: a stalker who had shadowed her since childhood, an anomalous record in her father's government file, and an unshakable feeling that she was an outsider in her own family.
At the same time, she began a relationship with a history teacher at her school, who awakened her to the possibility of dissent and to her own emerging womanhood. But, as she learned, the truth cuts both ways. While the professor taught her how to think outside of the borders the government had set, he himself was under political pressure that would prove unbearable.
Hong Ying's search for truth led to the discovery of family secret's that changed her life--and her perceptions of her parents, her sister, and herself--tragically and irrevocably. But these same events also set her free to leave home for good and become a writer. With raw intensity and fearless honesty, Daughter of the River follows China's trajectory through one woman's life, from the Great Famine through the Cultural Revolution to Tiananmen Square.
"This remarkable account of a childhood spent on the banks of the Yangtze River...explores the depths of personal and civil repression with an almost brutal grace."--The New Yorker
"Raw and powerful.... As you read [her] lacerating story, you feel that you have entered into the deepest truths of a tormented psyche, and into the truths as well of a bruised generation otherwise almost impossible for us to know."--Richard Bernstein, The New York Times
"Comparisons with Jung Chang's Wild Swans will be inevitable but Hong Ying's book more closely resemble Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club, in which histories are brought to light and reminiscences are contrasted fascinatingly with the present.... Heartbreaking."--The Times (London)
"Arresting."--Editor's Choice, Chicago Tribune
"[An] immersion in the suffering of China's urban underclass during the years following the Great Famine of the early 1960s...[a book] of stark power.--The Boston Globe
"The China that Hong Ying depicts in her memoir Daughter of the River bears little resemblance to those cheery posters that were churned out by the millions during Mao's reign.... [Hong Ying's] resilience, imagination, and a fantastically protean energy...can only inspire awe."--Los Angeles Times
"Enthralling...a story of poverty told as frankly as Angela's Ashes; a story of oppression characterized by the paranoia of The Handmaid's Tale.... A haunting autobiography that could stir the most ungrateful critic of the U.S. government into thanksgiving for the freedoms that others only dream of and that we often take for granted.... More than the story of one woman; it is the story of so many suppressed souls who are looking for a champion. Hong Ying may be that voice in the dark."--Columbus Post-Dispatch
"At once lyrical and brutal...reminiscent of Angela's Ashes.... A major writer emerges here, combining flawlessly the often broken dreams of youth and the usually broken dreams of politics."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"An astonishing picture of inner fortitude, marshaled against insult and injury amid the turmoil and repression--both political and emotional--of mid-century China."--Publishers Weekly
"A beautifully written and deeply felt work."--Teen People
"We are permanently reminded of the horrors of modern Chinese history.... A moving book which will bring tears to the eyes."--The Spectator (London)