A Comrade Lost and Found

ebook A Beijing Memoir

By Jan Wong

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A "suspenseful, elegantly written" account of the author's return to China after thirty years to search for the woman she betrayed to the authorities (Publishers Weekly, starred review).
In the early 1970s, at the height of the Cultural Revolution, Jan Wong traveled from Canada to Beijing University—where she would become one of only two Westerners permitted to study. One day a fellow student, Yin Luoyi, asked for her help getting to the United States.

Wong, then a starry-eyed Maoist from Montreal, immediately reported her to the authorities, and shortly thereafter Yin disappeared. Thirty-three years later, hoping to make amends, Wong revisits the Chinese capital to search for the person who has haunted her conscience. At the very least, she wants to discover whether Yin survived.

But Wong finds the new Beijing bewildering. Phone numbers, addresses, and even names change with startling frequency. In a society determined to bury the past, Yin Luoyi will be hard to find. As Wong traces her way from one former comrade to the next, she unearths not only the fate of the woman she betrayed but the strange and dramatic transformation of contemporary China. In this memoir, she tells how her journey rekindled all of her love for—and disillusionment with—her ancestral land.

"Gone is the semirural capital where the author's 'revolutionary' course of study included bouts of hard labor and 'self criticism' sessions. In its place are eight-lane expressways lit up 'like Christmas trees,' shiny skyscrapers and the largest shopping mall in the world. Wong is a gifted storyteller, and hers is a deeply personal and richly detailed eyewitness account of China's journey to glossy modernity." —Publishers Weekly, starred review

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