- Paperback: 322 pages
- Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2 February 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0547247893
- ISBN-13: 978-0547247892
- Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2 x 20.3 cm
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
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A Comrade Lost and Found: A Beijing Story Paperback – Import, 2 Feb 2010
PRAISE FOR "RED CHINA BLUES" "This deft intertwining of personal and historical perspectives makes for a riveting, human-scaled look at a nation so ambiguous to the West. "A.""--"Entertainment Weekly"
PRAISE FOR "RED CHINA BLUES" This deft intertwining of personal and historical perspectives makes for a riveting, human-scaled look at a nation so ambiguous to the West. "A." "Entertainment Weekly"
PRAISE FOR RED CHINA BLUES
PRAISE FOR RED CHINA BLUES "This deft intertwining of personal and historical perspectives makes for a riveting, human-scaled look at a nation so ambiguous to the West. A."--Entertainment Weekly
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I don't know if it would have been easier to find her using other means (private detectives, via government back channels, etc), but I think either way it would have taken lots of resources and time. I doubt it was as easy as walking into a police station and file a report as stated by another reviewer.
I enjoyed reading her works because I like her witty writing styles. Of course her topics are also interesting (why else would I have bothered otherwise?).
First, there's the obvious correlation of the previous story about ratting out her classmate. The follow-up is so great and really revealing. Wong's inner turmoil and guilt about the incident are relatable, making the urgency all that more serious.
Second, where "Red China Blues" showed the primitiveness and poverty of Cultural Revolution China, "A Comrade Lost and Found" contrasts that with the newfound wealth and rapid development of China. The contrast between the two Chinas is highlighted with poignancy and skill.
I cannot recommend these two books enough. They give such a great understanding of China and the Chinese people in the current era.
At the school, Wong had a brief encounter with a young woman named Yin, who told Wong of her dream of going to America--a dream the Communist Party certainly did not endorse. In her revolutionary fervor, Wong informed her teachers of Yin's desire. Shortly thereafter, Yin disappeared.
Wong later left China, became a reporter, and let the past lie. Eventually, however, she found herself unable to ignore her feelings of guilt for ratting out the idealistic young woman decades before--and hence the trip recounted in "A Comrade Lost and Found," in which Wong and her family go to Beijing in hopes of finding Yin. Adrift in a country of a billion people with almost no leads, calling it a daunting task would be an understatement.
Wong's continual theme is the drastic reinvention Beijing has undergone since her days as a student there, from hotels built over the sites of former factories to the rate at which Beijingers change their addresses and phone numbers. Her method of developing this theme, though, is to dive into tangential, almost stream-of-consciousness reminiscences whenever she sees something or meets someone, which can make the narrative hard to follow as it is interrupted by Wong's reflections for pages at a time. She seems compelled to make these observations about everything she encounters on her trip, and while some of this background is interesting, some of it could probably have been cut to streamline the story.
Wong also likes to ruminate on China's relationship to its past, especially the terrible years of the Cultural Revolution. She learns that many of her former classmates and teachers are unwilling to talk about their roles in the persecution of "counterrevolutionaries," and she is further confused by her own part in it all. She sometimes asks--almost rhetorically, it seems--how she let herself get swept up in the excesses of the era, and how culpable she is or isn't for what happened to Yin. But her minimal reflections on the subject come off as superficial. Perhaps the Chinese are not the only ones who are reluctant to genuinely confront the past.
The whole book is a bit too scattershot to be a good travel memoir, and not probing enough to be a compelling moral exploration of life under Communism. Readers for whom this is a first introduction to China may be intrigued, but the book lacks staying power.