Grandmother Had No Name

Alice Lin, Author China Books & Periodicals $9.94 (220p) ISBN 978-0-8351-2034-0
To examine the evolving roles of women in Asian cultures, Chinese-born New York State social worker Lin presents an autobiographical critique. The first third of her book describes her fascinating childhood and the relatives who shaped it: the Muslim family of her maternal grandmother, whose bound feet were like ``three-inch golden lotus,'' whose husband once installed a concubine, and whose birth name was unknown even by her own daughter; an aunt whose oppressive in-laws drove her to a suicide attempt; an uncle who married an unsuitable bride. Perhaps the most dramatic story deals with Lin's schooling after her family fled to Taiwan in 1949; her teacher believed that corporal punishment was ``an honor bestowed only upon those chosen few capable of still further improving,'' and accordingly humiliated Lin. Alas, as the discussion shifts to consider the status of women as a whole, the anecdotal presentation cannot support the analysis she ex trapolates from her colorful stories; at tempts to discuss women in other Asian cultures are cursory. And Lin's insights upon her return to China in 1979 do not provide a convincing overview of that country's recent history. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 02/01/1989
Release date: 02/01/1989
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