The Odyssey of a Manchurian

Belle Yang, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $35 (0p) ISBN 978-0-15-100175-0
""Baba,"" the author's father, was 17 when war raged in China between Mao Zedong's Red Army and Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists. All around him, people were fleeing, his own well-to-do Manchurian family with them; and he himself, neither a Nationalist nor a Communist, set out on foot to reach the south, where he thought to find safety. In Beijing, Baba witnessed the student revolt; he was on the road to Nanjing when it collapsed; he scrabbled for food in Shanghai--and everywhere else. Once he was accused of being a Communist spy, then released; once he was helped by monks; everywhere he tried to avoid soldiers. In flashbacks, Baba recalls scenes of his early village life in a large, prosperous family. Eventually he made his way to Taiwan, where the author was born in 1960, then to Japan and finally to the U.S. As Yang tells of her father's adventures, the panorama unfolds of frightened, nonpolitical people who found themselves swept into the chaos of revolution. The story has the appeal of a fairy-tale hero's travails--as do the illustrations by the author. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/02/1996
Release date: 10/01/1996
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