Yu Hua, China in Ten Words

Yu Hua, China in Ten Words

My colleague Jan Stryz recommended this to me, although we agreed that it would not be suitable for the classroom. (She has now introduced me to the more recent Lessons from China: America in the Hearts and Minds of the World’s Most Important Rising Generation  by Amy Werbel — more on that later.)

This is almost a Chinese “misery memoir,” as the Brits would say — except that the misery does not come from the immediate family members, but from the political system. It is shudder-making to read of young boys attacking a peasant come to town to trade on the black market, or slapping a teacher, with impunity — by labeling them “counter-revolutionaries.”

I don’t think our students know much of narratives like these, and, as their hosts, it seems ungracious of us to share them (and probably not conducive to open and free discussion). But I would like to hear more of what they know, what they are taught, about the Cultural Revolution.

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