Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Mao's Last Dancer

There are a lot of memoirs out there about people growing up and experiencing the cultural and economic changes during Chairman Mao's reign of China, and this is the best one that I have read.

Li Cunxin is a peasant boy who lives with his large family in a commune, and he gets picked to go to a dance/arts academy run by Madame Mao to learn to dance. He writes about his years in this academy and how they were affected by Mao's political power. Li eventually visits America, where he realizes that the Western world is not what Mao and the Gang of Four have said it would be.

Cunxin is a good writer--from the first page you want to finish. He has an easy flow, and I particularly liked that he retold many Chinese folk tales throughout his story. Read this book!

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