More About the Author
Hailed from People's Republic of China, Weihua Zhang received a Doctoral degree in Humanistic Studies from SUNY-Albany in 1996. She became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2002. Zhang is an English Professor and African American literary scholar, a published writer and photographer. Zhang lives in Savannah, Georgia. In 2003, Zhang ventured into photography and has exhibited her work in Savannah area galleries. Her black and white photographs have been featured frequently in Journal of Curriculum Theorizing. Her poem "Are You My Mother?" appeared in Offcourse, a Literary Journal in Fall 2006. Her nonfiction piece "Daughter of the Middle Kingdom" is included in the anthology Shifting Balance Sheets: Women's Stories of Naturalized Citizenship and Cultural Attachment, June 2011, Wishing Up Press, 223-29. Zhang enjoys reading, writing, traveling, taking photographs, and practicing yoga.
My book Dream Variations just made the Local Top 10 books list (Savannahnow.com, Nov.3, 2012)
Weihua Zhang writes a very honest and at times wrenching story of being an immigrant, a stranger, a student, a teacher, a daughter, a mother, and finally, a citizen of America. One of her book's most compelling themes is its insistence that becoming comfortable in her American skin is an unfinished project that has rested upon a process of both leaving and returning to her mainland Chinese homeland and family. Weihua's non-chronological, circular method of storytelling and her photographs that seamlessly interweave pictures of family members with her own artistic shots documenting Chinese and American culture reinforce her theme that her journey is still evolving and unfolding. She is also very aware that her story is as historic as it is personal. She evokes the memory of early Chinese immigrants who laid railroads across the American continent, calling them bridge builders "that linked the future generations of Chinese immigrants to the country's infinite possibilites." Weihua reckons that she, her husband, and her daughter are participants in an ongoing task of construction and transformation, where the bridges they are building stand on pillars composed of heritage, literature, art, and culture. (Barbara)
Weihua has presented a touching story about an immigrant's hardship in China during the Cultural Revolution and her journey in America as a successful Chinese American scholar. As millions of urban youth who are sent to the remote areas of China, Weihua has faced the harshness of working in a farm village. The mixed emotions and feelings are reminiscent of many Chinese youth at the time. Pursuing dreams in America, the author depicts her sacrifices and the struggles along the way. Weihua exemplifies many immigrants' experiences in a foreign land.
Weihua describes many heart wrenching and tender moments in the book. Her relationship with her mother and daughter, her husband's keen interest in building the Chinese furniture, and her love of photography are all portrayed vividly. The photos of her family and research draw the readers back in times. I strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in contemporary Chinese immigrants and their background in the home land. (Hua Jin)
Weihua Zhang's fine memoir tells the story of her "journey across two continents" and invokes poignant and painful memories of the people and nation she left behind. The chapters on China's Cultural Revolution are especially good. The writer owes it to herself and her readers to write a book-length autobiography of those years, when the private and the political intersected in new and strange ways. Among my favorite moments, and representative of how the writer lovingly portrays her mother: "During the Great Famine, Father often lamented over meals that there were two children too many in our household. One day, Mama decided that she had heard it enough. She raised a meat cleaver and calmly asked Father, 'Just tell me which two you don't want.' Father shut up right then and there." (George Williams)
Weihua has written a wonderful collection of essays, stories, and poems. Some brought tears to my eyes and all gave wonderful insight to her experience as a woman scholar, mother, immigrant, and daughter. Her piece on the Chinese countryside field work was especially poignant as was the time at Swarthmore College away from her beloved daughter back in China. Female readers will be empowered by Weihua's struggles and successes as a scholar who stays on her chosen path of African-American Literature. I highly recommend this book and am so proud to call Weihua a friend! (Yvonne)
The clarity of emotions and description of events make DREAM VARIATIONS a potential classic of the memoir of exile and discovery. The events and upheavals within China and America in the past half-century are reflected in the reconstructions of Weihua Zhang's experience of revolution, and trans-location.
Loves, deaths, child-raising, the pain of the demands of emotional, intellectual and academic honesty create a tapestry written with quiet humor, immense intelligence, and vital enthusiasms for creative joys which transcend the suffering one endures as a victim of geopolitics. DREAM VARIATIONS is a moving description of a desperate life both well-lived and deeply felt. (Steve)