Staff Review: Chuck Thomas, Years of Red Dust: Stories of Shanghai by Xiaolong Qiu

Years of Red Dust-Stories of Shanghai,  is fictionalized adaptation of life on a street in Shanghai and the intertwining of lives and the party line and the relationship or disparity of actual life and the vision of Mao.  This short and wonderful book traces the changes in China from just before the Communist revolution to the 1990’s. The vignettes stem from the perspective of the residents of Red Dust Lane, whose inhabitants are organized along the lines of a communal group.  A bulletin board at the beginning of the lane posts the Mao comment de jour and the short tale of each chapter relates to that comment.  In this way the onset of Mao, the Cultural Revolution, and on through the Tianamin Square riots are all interpreted for us outside of the bamboo curtain.  I really recommend this read.

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