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by Annie Wang
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A remarkable first novel that chronicles the emotional and psychological awakening of a tragically disaffected Chinese girl during the turbulent years that led up to the Tiananmen Uprising. As a teenager growing up during the Cultural Revolution, Lili is forced to leave Beijing when her parents, music professors, are relocated to a peasant village to be re-educated. Raped by one of the Communist party leaders in the village, Lili flees to Beijing. Seeking comfort and a sense of community, she becomes a gang member only to be branded by society as a petty criminal and a street hooligan. Whatever youthful enthusiasm Lili may have had is thwarted by the arbitrary oppression of daily life, and she is paralyzed by cynicism, indifference, and, above all, self-loathing. But when she meets an American journalist named Roy and is given the opportunity to see China through his eyes, Lili gradually relinquishes her indifference and self-loathing. She is eventually able to comprehend the magnitude of the changes that are sweeping across her country and to appreciate being a part of something greater than herself. And as the decades of smoldering anger and resentment borne by ordinary people ignite to culminate in a powerful movement, Lili comes startlingly awake to a political and personal understanding she might never have been able to attain otherwise. Written with a bracing rawness and immediacy, Lili is a book of undeniable authenticity. It is both a sharp-eyed witness to historical events and a story whose psychological and emotional veracity is not only irrefutable, but also utterly compelling.
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