Catalogue


Spider eaters [electronic resource] : a memoir /
Rae Yang.
imprint
Berkeley : University of California Press, c1997.
description
xi, 285 p. : ill., ; 24 cm.
ISBN
0520204808 (alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
More Details
imprint
Berkeley : University of California Press, c1997.
isbn
0520204808 (alk. paper)
restrictions
Licensed for access by U. of T. users.
catalogue key
11380046
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Flap Copy
"By oscillating between scenes that are bland in their matter-of-fact concreteness and ones that are almost unbelievable in their nightmarish cruelty and complexity, Rae Yang skillfully evokes the bizarre and contradictory 'revolutionary' world in which she grew up in Mao's China. Spider Eatersis a reminder of what a traumatic history the Chinese people have undergone this century and that a country's past--even when many would rather forget it--always lives irrevocably on within those who experienced it."--Orville Schell, author of Mandate of Heaven "How can we expect anyone to know the United States without understanding the effect the Sixties had on all of us? Similarly, how can we know China without comprehending the impact the Sixties and the Cultural Revolution had on its politics, culture, and people? Rae Yang's Spider Eatersgoes far in building that understanding. It is a gripping memoir."--Lisa See, author of On Gold Mountain
Flap Copy
"By oscillating between scenes that are bland in their matter-of-fact concreteness and ones that are almost unbelievable in their nightmarish cruelty and complexity, Rae Yang skillfully evokes the bizarre and contradictory 'revolutionary' world in which she grew up in Mao's China.Spider Eatersis a reminder of what a traumatic history the Chinese people have undergone this century and that a country's past--even when many would rather forget it--always lives irrevocably on within those who experienced it."--Orville Schell, author ofMandate of Heaven "How can we expect anyone to know the United States without understanding the effect the Sixties had on all of us? Similarly, how can we know China without comprehending the impact the Sixties and the Cultural Revolution had on its politics, culture, and people? Rae Yang'sSpider Eatersgoes far in building that understanding. It is a gripping memoir."--Lisa See, author ofOn Gold Mountain
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 1997-04-15:
Currently an assistant professor of East Asian studies at Dickinson College, Yang was born in 1950 to parents who were cadres in the Chinese Communist party. She spent her preschool years in Switzerland and elementary school years in China during a famine. Yang attended one of the most prestigious middle schools in Beijing, became a Red Guard, and worked on a pig farm and out in the fields with the peasants. In her memoir, she explores the question of whether she was ever loved and whether she was worthy of love from her parents, nanny, aunt, and grandmother. She describes how women were regarded as jiashu (disposable dependents) by the so-called egalitarian Communist party and how she acted out her revenge on those who imposed hierarchy and formality. For historians and scholars, Yang's book offers a depth of detail on coming of age during the Chinese Cultural Revolution that is unrivaled among other recent memoirs (see especially Anchee Min's Red Azalea, LJ 12/93). Highly recommended for all libraries.‘Peggy Spitzer Christoff, Oak Park, Ill. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 1998-03-02:
Yang, assistant professor of East Asian studies at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa., spent her early years in Switzerland as the daughter of a Chinese diplomat, and returned to Beijing in the mid-1950s. Although her father's background was upper-class, her parents were committed Communist Party members and educated Yang to become a Maoist revolutionary. This engrossing memoir deals with the cultural revolution of the 1960s, when Yang became a Red Guard who denounced adults she considered counterrevolutionaries. With other fanatic teens, she traveled the country spreading propaganda, raiding homes and inflicting beatings on anyone suspected of political disloyalty; one of these beatings led to the death of the victim. The author also describes friends and relatives who influenced her, vividly invoking her upper-class grandmother, who shared a rich heritage of folktales with Yang. After spending several years as a farm laborer, Yang began to question the revolution and made her way back to Beijing and eventually to the United States. Photos. (Apr.) FYI: The title refers to those driven to eat anything they can find, especially during hard times such as the famine, or Three-Year Natural Calamity, of 1959-1962. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Appeared in Choice on 1997-09:
The publication of several excellent memoirs and biographies of individuals involved in Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution has given readers rich source material on that cataclysmic event in China's history. If the Cultural Revolution was a unique example of how a political leader used the youth of his society in a deliberately calculated manner for his political ends, it also showed those young people blindly following him in a maddening and intoxicating manner. Yang's fascinating and touching memoir brings to life the times she lived through as a young soldier in Mao's Red Guards. She does not hesitate to describe as revolutionary measures her own participation in some of the destructive acts, or to point out candidly how the Cultural Revolution affected her relationship with her parents and other family members. Perhaps the book's best part is its narration of her life on a pig farm in the great northern wilderness, where her idealism, the simple life of the Chinese peasants, her emotions as a growing young woman, the brutality of the system, and her eventual feelings of remorse all came together. A very readable and excellent memoir of modern China, recommended for all libraries. S. K. Gupta; Pittsburg State University
Reviews
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews, February 1997
Booklist, April 1997
Library Journal, April 1997
Choice, September 1997
Publishers Weekly, March 1998
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
Spider Eatersis at once a moving personal story, a fascinating family history, and a unique chronicle of political upheaval told by a Chinese woman who came of age during the turbulent years of the Cultural Revolution. With stunning honesty and a lively, sly humor, Rae Yang records her life from her early years as the daughter of Chinese diplomats in Switzerland, to her girlhood at an elite middle school in Beijing, to her adolescent experience as a Red Guard and later as a laborer on a pig farm in the remote northern wilderness. She tells of her eventual disillusionment with the Maoist revolution, how remorse and despair drove her almost to suicide, and how she struggled to make sense of conflicting events that often blurred the line between victim and victimizer, aristocrat and peasant, communist and counterrevolutionary. Moving gracefully between past and present, dream and reality, the author artfully conveys the vast complexity of life in China as well as the richness, confusion, and magic of her own inner life and struggle. Much of the power of the narrative derives from Yang's multi-generational, cross-class perspective. She invokes the myths, legends, folklore, and local customs that surrounded her and brings to life the many people who were instrumental in her life: her nanny, a poor woman who raised her from a baby and whose character is conveyed through the bedtime tales she spins; her father; her beloved grandmother, who died as a result of the political persecution she suffered. Spanning the years from 1950 to 1980, Rae Yang's story is evocative, complex, and told with striking candor. It is one of the most immediate and engaging narratives of life in post-1949 China.
Long Description
Spider Eaters is at once a moving personal story, a fascinating family history, and a unique chronicle of political upheaval told by a Chinese woman who came of age during the turbulent years of the Cultural Revolution. With stunning honesty and a lively, sly humor, Rae Yang records her life from her early years as the daughter of Chinese diplomats in Switzerland, to her girlhood at an elite middle school in Beijing, to her adolescent experience as a Red Guard and later as a laborer on a pig farm in the remote northern wilderness. She tells of her eventual disillusionment with the Maoist revolution, how remorse and despair drove her almost to suicide, and how she struggled to make sense of conflicting events that often blurred the line between victim and victimizer, aristocrat and peasant, communist and counterrevolutionary. Moving gracefully between past and present, dream and reality, the author artfully conveys the vast complexity of life in China as well as the richness, confusion, and magic of her own inner life and struggle. Much of the power of the narrative derives from Yang's multi-generational, cross-class perspective. She invokes the myths, legends, folklore, and local customs that surrounded her and brings to life the many people who were instrumental in her life: her nanny, a poor woman who raised her from a baby and whose character is conveyed through the bedtime tales she spins; her father; her beloved grandmother, who died as a result of the political persecution she suffered. Spanning the years from 1950 to 1980, Rae Yang's story is evocative, complex, and told with striking candor. It is one of the most immediate and engaging narratives of life in post-1949 China.
Bowker Data Service Summary
The Chinese writer Lu Xun has said that some of our ancestors must have bravely attempted to eat crabs so that we would learn they were edible. Rae Yang expresses often-overlooked psychological nuances.

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