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Spider Eaters: A Memoir by Rae Yang

Spider Eaters: A Memoir

by Rae Yang

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Great memoir! Rae Yang was a teenager at Beijing's most elite high school at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution in China. She is of the right age and political background to be on its opening wave. She initially goes to Guangzhou to "make revolution" and then goes to the "Great Northern Wilderness" which I believe was Heilongjiang to learn from the peasants with the rest of her class. She has a wry since of irony about her actions, giving the feeling of it being a great adventure. Her story is one of teenage rebellion being sanctioned by political authorities. A remarkable work that is both insightful and entertaining. ( )
  Scapegoats | Nov 26, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0520215982, Paperback)

Born in 1950, Rae Yang came of age in a time of tremendous social upheaval in her native China. Her parents, Communist intellectuals who had been in favor with the leadership, were denounced during the so-called anti-Rightist campaigns of the 1950s. During the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s Yang, a Red Guard, traveled throughout the country spreading revolutionary fever--an exciting period, she recalls, that she had much time to reflect on while later working at a collectivized pig farm. (She named the pigs under her charge, she writes: Capitalist, Prince, Natasha, and so on.) Disillusioned by the violence, repression, and hardship all around her, Yang eventually managed to leave China on a student visa for the United States. "Lies, big and small, cannot easily hypnotize me," she writes, and her memoir paints an honest portrait of a China in suffering.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:01 -0400)

Earlier this century the Chinese writer Lu Xun said that some of our ancestors must have bravely attempted to eat crabs so that we would learn they were edible. Trials with spiders were not so enjoyable. Our ancestors suffered their bitter taste and spared us their poison. Rae Yang, a daughter of privilege, became a spider eater at age fifteen, when she enthusiastically joined the Red Guards in Beijing. By seventeen, she volunteered to work on a pig farm and thus began to live at the bottom of Chinese society. With stunning honesty and a lively, sly humor, the complex and likable Yang incorporates the legends, folklore, and local customs of China to evoke the political and moral crises that the revolution brought upon her over three decades, from 1950 to 1980. Unique to memoirists of this genre, Yang expresses often-overlooked psychological nuances and, with admirable candor, charts her own path as both victim and victimizer.Through this gifted author's compelling meditation, readers will, with Yang, grapple with the human scale of national conflicts - and the painful lessons learned by spider eaters.… (more)

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