Colors of the Mountain

Da Chen, Author
Da Chen, Author Random House (NY) $25 (320p) ISBN 978-0-375-50288-0
Reviewed on: 01/31/2000
Release date: 02/01/2000
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-385-72060-1
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7871-2260-7
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-57453-463-4
Open Ebook - 243 pages - 978-1-4000-7594-2
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-1-4464-5745-0
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-299-21779-9
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The grandchild of a former landlord--China's most spat-upon class after the Revolution--Chen was regularly beaten to a pulp by other children and, despite performing at the top of his class, repeatedly denied the right to continue at school. His family of nine--including his brother, three sisters, grandparents and parents--subsisted on moldy yams alone for entire winters. Meanwhile, his grandfather was attacked randomly by neighbors and forced by the local authorities to guard lumber and tend fields. Chen's father, with his prerevolutionary college education, eventually managed to extract himself from the labor camps by becoming skilled in acupuncture (he used the biggest needles on the hated ""cadres""). At the climax of this survival story, Chen, the book's first-person narrator, and his older brother, Jin, both compete in China's first nationwide, open educational tests in 1977: ""We were out to make a point. The Chen family had been dragged through the mud for the last forty years.... Now it was time."" Scoring among the top 2% of the country, the 14-year-old Chen achieved his dream of attending Beijing Language Institute. According to the epilogue, after graduating with high honors, he wound up in New York at age 23, where he won a scholarship to attend Columbia Law School, and later landed a job on Wall Street and married a doctor. Despite the devastating circumstances of his childhood and adolescence, Chen recounts his coming of age with arresting simplicity. Readers will cry along with this sad, funny boy who proves tough enough to make it, every step of the painful way. Agent, Elaine Koster. 5-city author tour. (Feb.)
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