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Colors of the Mountain
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About the Author

Da Chen is a graduate of Columbia University Law School, which he attended on full scholarship. A brush calligrapher of considerable spirituality who also plays the classical bamboo flute, he lives in New York's Hudson Valley with his wife and two children.

Reviews

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.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

Over the past few years, Chinese memoirs dealing with adolescence in Communist China, written mostly by women who subsequently moved to the United States, have proliferated. These include Anchee Min's Red Azalea, Jaia Sun-Childers's The White-Haired Girl: Bittersweet Adventures of a Little Red Soldier, and Rae Yang's Spider Eaters. This work, written by a young man who came of age after the Cultural Revolution, is similar in some respects: Chen's bourgeois family was persecuted by the state, and he eventually left China to live in the United States. But Chen's story is different from the others because he grew up in rural, not urban, China. It carries an easily recognizable theme (boy falls in with hoodlums, then pulls himself up to succeed against all odds), which is at once uplifting and unsatisfying. Chen, who attended Columbia University Law School on a full scholarship and has worked on Wall Street, has written a clear and fast-moving book, but readers looking for either a modest narrator or a way to make sense of recent events in China will be disappointed.ÄPeggy Spitzer Christoff, Oak Park, IL Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

?A story about suppression, humiliation, vindication and, ultimately, triumph. The New York Times Book Review
"A completely engrossing coming-of-age tale...a defiantly happy book, big-hearted and sincere."--Newsweek
"This is a mad sad story with soul and spirituality. A child rises to man in these pages, forgiving those who did him ill, and tells his story with compassion and warm humor. Read this book and cheer a child who triumphes over the darkness and indeed becomes a beacon." -Malachy McCourt
"A story about suppression, humiliation, vindication and, ultimately, triumph."--The New York Times Book Review
"Here is that rarity in these times, a truly marvelous book...big-hearted and humorous, written in simple, evocative prose."--The Denver Post
-A completely engrossing coming-of-age tale...a defiantly happy book, big-hearted and sincere.---Newsweek
-This is a mad sad story with soul and spirituality. A child rises to man in these pages, forgiving those who did him ill, and tells his story with compassion and warm humor. Read this book and cheer a child who triumphes over the darkness and indeed becomes a beacon.- -Malachy McCourt
-A story about suppression, humiliation, vindication and, ultimately, triumph.---The New York Times Book Review
-Here is that rarity in these times, a truly marvelous book...big-hearted and humorous, written in simple, evocative prose.---The Denver Post

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