Sunday, November 10, 2013

Books on China

When I was wandering around Melbourne, I found a bookshop called The Book Grocer, which advertised books at $10 each.  I resisted, I really did, but in the end I walked out with a bag of books, and regretted it momentarily - especially as I had to carry them around with me and they were heavy.  Still, I reasoned with myself that I may not have found the shop again if I didn't buy then and there.

I came across a section in the bookshop on China - so three of the books were about China.  I have read one already and I am so pleased I did.

Er Tai Gao wrote a "Memoir of a Chinese Labor Camp" titled "In Search of My Homeland" which was published in 2009, by HarperCollins, New York.

I spent less than two years in China as an English teacher in 2008 and 2010, and have a deep fascination with Chinese culture.  It is such a complex ancient culture, and though we may have read bits and pieces abut life in China since the 1950's, it is such a vast country with many stories. 

Er Tai Gao (now living in the US) was a young art teacher, 22 years old in 1957 when he wrote something that offended the Chinese Communist authorities and was sent to a labor camp and lived under extra ordinary conditions until sometime in the 1990's when he was released and able to go to the US.

It is a horrific tale of abuse, and details some of the extra ordinary behaviour of those in power under Chairman Mao.  I found it very hard to read  - (only hard to read about what he and others experienced at that time.)  He certainly sounds to be an amazing man to endure all he had to suffer in the camp.

Anyone interested in Chinese history would find it very enlightening.


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