In her long writing career, Lisa See has covered China and Chinese America from a number of angles. But whether penning a memoir, a thriller or a historical novel, See comes off as a digger, a woman who spends a lot of time in the stacks and on the road, pursuing the details of each project she takes on. In her new book, Dreams of Joy, a continuation of sorts of her last best-selling novel, Shanghai Girls, she takes on Chinas famine-riddled Great Leap Forward, a period we dont really know much about in the West, from a couple of perspectives that of a fervent Chinese-American girl, and that of the woman shes always known as her mother. And she chose that era simply because someone had to do it.
The Great Leap Forward is a period not written about very much, See says. We hear about the Cultural Revolution in so many memoirs and films, and one reason why is that the people targeted were intellectuals. When it was all over, they were the very people who could write the books or poems or plays or make the movies. During the Great Leap Forward, the people most affected were poor peasants in the countryside who were isolated, uneducated and, in many cases, illiterate. Those who survived were not the ones who were going to write novels or essays or movies. As far as I know, there are no novels in English that take place in that period.
Learn more when See reads from and discusses Dreams of Joy tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2526 East Colfax Avenue; for information, visit www.tatteredcover.com or call 303-322-7727.
Wed., June 29, 7:30 p.m., 2011