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Like everyone else in the US and in the world, for that matter, I was gripped by the story of Abu Ghraib in 2004 and 2005, the shocking photos of torture and abuse that were being released.... which "inspired" the Chinese media to publish many stories of the much more "humane" treatment of American POWs during the Korean War, which, in turn, inspired a keen interest in me on the subject, and as I dug into the history about that "forgotten war," as told and retold by both the Chinese and Americans, the idea of Twin-Sun River: An American POW in China began to shape up.
This novel is not only inspired by real historical events, but also by my own life experiences in China. Born in the year of the "Great Leap Forward" (1957), just in time to be hit by the Famine (1960-63), and soon to watch my father, principal of a rural middle school, being brutalized by the Red Guards during the "Cultural Revolution" (1966-1976), working on the novel oftentimes is not unlike submersing myself again in deep, scarred memories.
About the Author
A native of Nanjing, China, Shouhua Qi came to the United States in 1989. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Feminist Studies, AMBIT, The Connecticut Review, Rain Flower, and many other publications. Qi is the author of Western Literature in China and the Translation of a Nation (2012), China Complex: From the Sublime to the Absurd on the U.S.-China Scene (2009),Pearl Jacket and Other Stories: Flash Fiction from Contemporary China (editor/translator, 2008), Red Guard Fantasies and Other Stories (2007),When the Purple Mountain Burns: A Novel (2005), and a number of other books.
Shouhua Qi believes that "a story must be exceptional enough to justify its telling" (Thomas Hardy) and that creativity comes from "the abrasive juxtaposition" of life experiences (Mario Capecchi).
Qi's fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Feminist Studies, AMBIT, The Connecticut Review, Rain Flower, and many other publications. He is the author of "Twin-Sun River: An American POW in China" (2011), "Purple Mountain: A Story of the Rape of Nanking" (2010), "Red Guard Fantasies and Other Stories" (2007), "Pearl Jacket and Other Stories" (translator/editor, 2008), "Bridging the Pacific: Searching for Cross-Cultural Understanding Between the United States and China" (2000), and more than ten other books.
His latest scholarly endeavor is "Western Literature in China and the Translation of a Nation" set to be released in March 2012.
Shouhua Qi is Professor of English at Western Connecticut State University.
What a good read - `Twin-Sun River' - a very human story, very real and emotional; a perfect script for a film, combining war, adventure and romance. But first and foremost it was a story of love, human tragedy and endurance. Based on true events, it followed the life of an American POW from the time he was captured in the Korean War to life as a peasant in a remote village in northern China where he has stayed for all these years. I have no problem relating to its cultural and historical background. The author was a native from Nanking and gone through 'hard times' in the Mainland - Great Leap Forward, Cultural Revolution etc. I was brought up in Hong Kong during the Korean War; indoctrinated under colonial rule and social unrest was frequent.
Like all adventure stories (I'm thinking of Indiana Jones), what could be a better place to start than inside a lecture theatre at Princeton, or Princetown in this case, a professor of Humanity (the author) presenting a lecture, the bell rang, a stranger remained behind and the story began.
This book is not short of love scenes either. However, the one that intrigued me most was between the professor and Greta, a young, beautiful American who was a student of his father-in-law, and who became his travelling companion and assistant. She was an enigmatic figure. Did she exist in real life or was this part of the story pure fiction? Why did the two stop short of a meaningful (physical) relationship when they were obviously very fond of each other, and sharing the same hotel room and bed?