Sketches in Winter: A Beijing PostScript

Charles Foran, Author, John Fraser, Foreword by
Charles Foran, Author, John Fraser, Foreword by HarperCollins Publishers $12 (0p) ISBN 978-0-00-637921-8
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In graceful and ironic style, Foran, a young Canadian who taught in Beijing in 1989 and 1990, tells of the lives and hopes of students he grew close to. The 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, after which Foran left for eight months, is the omnipresent lens for his account. Zhou Shuren, a rock 'n' roll-loving ``artist as yet undiscovered by his art,'' tells of his arrest, imprisonment and coercion by the police to translate the potentially subversive lyrics of his Duran Duran tape. To Foran, outdoor basketball games provide an opportunity to sketch the taxonomy of the school: undergraduates, seeking freedom and self-expression, make lousy teammates, while older players ``had long since given up expelling anger physically.'' A brief section about the days surrounding Tiananmen is punctuated with resonant quotations from the Chinese essayist Lu Xun. After the massacre, some students avoid fraternizing with their foreign teacher; others ask desperately about emigration. One laments, ``We have nothing and believe in nothing also.'' Yet another bravely plans to write a thesis on the politically incorrect topic of media coverage during the student movement. (June)
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