cover image The Winged Seed: A Remembrance

The Winged Seed: A Remembrance

Li-Young Lee. Simon & Schuster, $19.5 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-671-70708-8

In this lyrical memoir, Chinese-American poet Li-Young (Rose: The City in Which I Love You) recalls scenes of his childhood and youth in a kaleidoscope of dreams and nightmares with a factual recitation of events. He moves back and forth among prerevolutionary China, when his forbears were rich and privileged; the China of Mao Zedong, when his father was Mao's physician; Indonesia, where he and his family fled in the early 1950s after the father's release from the leper colony where he had been imprisoned for suspected disloyalty; and thence to Hong Kong and the U.S., where his father became a Presbyterian minister. Through the illogic and distortion of his dreams, Li-Young leads readers into the emotional landscape of his childhood, while objective events become clear in the narrative. In this evocative tale, politics plays a lesser role than family history and love in a world that was sad, frightening and hard for a child to understand. For the reader, however, Li-Young's portraits of the times are vividly illuminating. (Mar.)