Monday, December 31, 2007

Revolution is Not A Dinner Party


Compestine, Ying Chang. 2007. Revolution is Not A Dinner Party.

I read this one about two or three weeks ago. I remember reading Erin's review of this a few months ago, and looking back it summed it up just right. I'm not sure who the audience of this one will be exactly, but it was an enjoyable read nevertheless. One thing to its credit, it made me more interested in this time period. I may end up seeking out a nonfiction book or memoir about the cultural revolution in China in the near future. But as good as it was, it wasn't quite great. At least not for me. I enjoyed the heroine's narration a good deal. As Erin said, it was made this one good. Our heroine, Ling, is nine years old when our story opens. She is living in a nice apartment with her family. But things change rather quickly when Chairman Mao comes to power. His stirring things up philosophy of social and economic class will leave Ling and her family in danger. Her father, a doctor, is forced to become a janitor. One by one, Ling sees her friends and neighbors taken away, killed, or imprisoned. One of her neighbors, a boy just a little older, is taken away and brainwashed. He is now part of the "enemy" force threatening her safety, her family, her life. It isn't a pretty story--it is full of danger and political, social, and economic unrest. I think one positive about the book is--if it can find a reader--is that it will expand their knowledge, their perspective. I certainly didn't know much going into this one, and now having read it, I am curious to know more, to learn more. A historical fiction book that makes you curious to read more? That has to be a good thing. So while I wasn't blown away by this one--thinking it was the best book in the entire world and that every man, woman, and child needs to pick it up and read it--it was a good read.

7 comments:

Erin 10:46 AM  

I am glad you enjoyed it. :)

Somer 3:46 PM  

I got a free copy of this at the Texas Library Association conference last spring, but I haven't read it yet. The author was signing copies of it, and her publisher was grabbing people as they walked by to get a copy and have it autographed. I'll have to pick it up soon!

Melissa 6:58 PM  

Have you ever read Life and Death in Shanghi by Nien Cheng? It's her memoir of the Cultural Revolution (she was arrested) and it's quite powerful, if I remember right.

This one does sound interesting, though.

Becky 7:28 PM  

Melissa,

I'll have to look for it at my local library. thanks for the recommendation. :) I always welcome those :)

Sarah,  9:35 AM  

I've read several books about the cultural revolution, and it never ceases to amaze me that something like that could really happen. The personal stories that are told about it are the most interesting. I'll have to check this one out.

softdrink 10:10 PM  

Anchee Min's Empress Orchid was quite good, although it's about the last empress...and it's a fictional memoir, based on historical fact. So I'm way off base on what you're looking for. :-D
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress is about the Cultural Revolution...but it's fiction.

iggystar 2:54 PM  

Sounds interesting. Thanks for the review.

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