Mao’s Town

Mao’s Town by Xie Hong is the first English-language novel from Chinese author Xie Hong, and showcases the author’s unique voice in exploring the Revolutionary era of recent Chinese history. Told in short, pointed sentences, Mao’s Town expresses something that only an author who lived through the terrible era could truly understand. Nonetheless, this book gives an excellent introduction to so many horrors of the time–from the hunger pains of the Great Leap Forward to the abusive madness of the Red Guards circa the Cultural Revolution. It was a time that hopefully will never be repeated, but needs to be remembered.

Mao’s Town is told from a childhood point of view, full of memories and written in direct language that always seems appropriate. The central theme is the concept of family as well finding one’s place in a small town which represents the enormous nation of China, and furthermore the narrative explores how the edicts that came down from the dictatorship of Chairman Mao can affect everything for one small boy.

There are the little things that one remembers, details like enjoying food in the early days. Though then the lack of it later when the hardships begin. The protagonist of the story spends his days watching propaganda “Red” films about fighting landlords, celebrates Chinese New Year, and plays with his friends Sun and Ahn as all of the families are eventually torn apart culminating in his brother’s and father’s sagas.

Some of the memories can be very intense, like when a teacher must be chosen as the “rightist” of the school for public punishment. Others seem so innocently naïve, such as when the family gives up their pots and pans out of faith to the Party’s now known horrific steelworks projects. They townspeople kill sparrows, and more, yet never know the full impact even while the path leads to starvation. All the while, the children don’t even know what the word “capitalist” means…

Mao’s Town is a quick read about both Chinese history and about how young minds process tragedy. Recommended for historians of all ages.

Mao’s Town by Xie Hong is published by Whyte Tracks and is available on Amazon.

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Conforming to Vicinity – Chinese Art Exhibition

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He Xiangning Art Museum is still among my favorite museums in Shenzhen. I’m still amazed by the quality of exhibitions they host. The latest is “Conforming to Vicinity — A cross-straits Four-region Artistic Exchange Project 2014”, which showcases thirteen artists from Taiwan, Macau, Hong Kong, and mainland China. Get it?

Starting from Macau then on to Pingtun in Taiwan (next stop HK), the exhibition has migrated to different cities and adapts to the style of the locale. Even though the mainland is less free than those other sovereign/pseudosovereign versions of China, I do trust that all art was being true to itself with minimal political pressure. No heavy-handed propaganda about Taiwan joining a harmonious union, all was subtle. Indeed, I believe cultural exchanges are great things in promoting overall peace.

There is a lot of meaning to these pieces. For more information go to hxnart.com or even better come in person and pick up the bilingual literature.

I thoroughly enjoyed and I recommend to tall. The museum is at OCT subway station, follow the signs. Free entry. Closed Mondays.

 

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Fortress Besieged Game: Disordered Region
Zhang Wenzhou

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Note the chair near the ceiling…

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Chang of Ink Spots video installation
Hung Keung

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Banknote Figure Paintings:
When We Were Together
Mao Zedong Among the People
Zhao Lin

(Interesting sidenote, Continue reading