Life of an artist in Mao Tse-tung’s era
My rating: 4 out of 5
This is the fascinating story of Xiadong (English = Little Winter) who grew up in China in Chairman Mao Zedong / Tse-tung’s era, when expressing individual thoughts could result in imprisonment and death.
Although Little Winter is a fictional character, I soon forgot this as I read about her life in those unpredictable times. The book starts when Little Winter is a teenager in 1962 and continues up to 2011 by which time she has moved to the USA. Her story includes the terrible events in Tiananmen Square in 1989 and other atrocities, but also tells of love, adventure and happy times.
Little Winter is an artist, and through her tale the reader is given an insight into the immense bravery of the Stars Arts Movement (a real group of artists) as they try to gain back the right of freedom of expression, and stand up to the authorities so that their art can be experienced by all.
This is a mother’s (Little Winter) story written for her teenage daughter – who is growing up in the very different world of the USA. Little Winter’s story tells of love, fear, excitement and horror, and though this is a “faction” book, it is difficult to believe that Little Winter, and her friends, are not real people. There is a useful list at the back of the book giving brief details of the political figures mentioned in the book, plus 10 of the real Stars.
I have rated it a 4 out of 5 as I would have liked a little more factual information about what was going on politically at the time. However this a very strong and moving story, which is full of interesting details. Recommended to anyone who wants a personal insight into everyday life at that time.