Rob Gifford, former Beijing Correspondent of NPR, and author of China Road
Mulberry Childby Jian Ping
Mulberry Child is the true story of a childhood before, during, and after the Cultural Revolution in China. Jian Ping's father, a high-ranking government official, was falsely accused of treason during the Cultural Revolution-he was detained, beaten, and publicly shamed. Her mother Gu Wenxiu, a top administrator of a middle school, was paraded in public and detained by the Revolution Committee and the Red Guards-both driving forces of the Cultural Revolution. Facing abuse and deprivation, Jian Ping's family stands steadfastly together, from her aging grandmother, a frail woman with bound feet, to her parents and siblings. The traumatic impacts of their experiences shape the course of their lives forever.
Based on her own memories, as well as interviews and exhaustive research, Mulberry Child is a family saga and a tale of resilience, a coming of age story told through the eyes of an innocent child. Mulberry Child allows us an insider's look into a closed-off world and is written with compassion in honest and intimate language.
"Jian Ping's book Mulberry Child is a moving account of her family's struggle to survive China's Cultural Revolution. She has in her poignant memoir helped Westerners to understand this little-known period in China's history, and put tragic and heroic faces to the individuals who suffered through that time. Mulberry Child is important reading for anyone who wants to understand where modern China has come from."
--Rob Gifford, former Beijing Correspondent of NPR, and author of China Road: A Journey into the Future of a Rising Power
"Jian Ping pays tribute to her parents who struggled against tremendous odds.... that she herself survived to write this memoir, and to tell it with such maturity and wisdom and forgiveness, is a tribute to her family, her generation and her nation."
--Larry Engelmann, author of Feather in a Storm and Daughter of China
"In Mulberry Child, Jian Ping has written a moving, important account of an extraordinary time. And she has done so with grace, acuity and a generosity of spirit. Mulberry Child is one compelling read."
--Alex Kotlowitz, author of There Were No Children Here
Rob Gifford, former Beijing Correspondent of NPR, and author of China Road
Alex Kotlowitz, author of There Were No Children Here
Larry Engelmann, author of Feather in a Storm and Daughter of China
Ronald E. Yates, Dean of the College of Media at the University of Illinois and former foreign correspondent and author based in Asia
Sharon Stangenes, Former Chicago Tribune Columnist
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Meet the Author
Jian Ping was born and raised in China. She is an author, public speaker, and film producer. Her book, Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, tells the story of her coming of age as the daughter of a high-ranking government official and her family’s traumatic experiences during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) in China. Mulberry Child has been made into a feature-length documentary movie.
Since the publication of Mulberry Child, Jian has been featured on Chicago Tonight Show with Phil Ponce at WTTW and the Asian American Network News and conducted many radio and newspaper interviews in the United States and Canada. Book reviews on Mulberry Child have appeared in more than a dozen Chinese and English newspapers and select NPR programs. Jian is a contributing writer at Xinhua News Agency, the official news network in China, and a columnist for Asian Wisconzine, a monthly magazine in the Midwest.
Jian’s other publications include A Fool’s Paradise (Xiwang Publishing, China, translator, 1984), a collection of translated short stories by Isaac Bashevis Singer, and Chinese Film Theory (Praeger, New York, co-editor, 1989). She was a translator at the China Film Corporation in Beijing for four years before coming to the United States to do graduate studies in 1986. Jian worked as a manager at the largest U.S. beer importer for 20 years (1989—2009).
Over the past two years, Jian has given more than 70 talks at business/social organizations, universities, schools, and special interest groups, including the World Trade Organization in Illinois, the International Women’s Association in Chicago, the Federal Asian Pacific American Council, University of Chicago, Benedictine University, DePaul University, National Federation of Press Women, the Art Institute of Chicago and Miss Porter’s. She is the keynote speaker at the 141st Commencement Ceremony at Loyola University (College of Arts and Sciences) in May 2011.
Jian held a Ragdale residency (2007) and was a recipient of the Florence Bear Picker Fellowship from the Radgale Foundation. Jian is working on her next book, From Changchun to Chicago, in collaboration with her daughter, Lisa. It focuses on their conflicts resulted from their different social and cultural backgrounds.
Jian has a bachelor’s degree in English from Jilin University, Changchun, China and dual master’s degrees in Film and International Affairs f
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OK, it is not exactly about the Beijing Olympics, but Mulberry Child can well provide us with a crucial context where China has come from in just three decades. Jian Ping¡¯s family saga has chronicled the vicissitude of life all through the eyes of a child during Mao¡¯s Cultural Revolution. She has completed a remarkable task by her compelling descriptions of the struggles, sufferings, despair and expectations that went through her family. I understand Mulberry Child was initially intended for Jian Ping¡¯s own teenager daughter, who grew up in the States and has worried her mother by an adolescent lapse of interest in her Chinese root and identity. But I must say I¡¯ve found myself ended up benefiting a great deal as well. I believe most readers share my sentiments.
Mulberry Child was the first Cultural Revolution book that I¿ve read in depth. The book was easy to read and really captures the reader¿s attention because of the personal content. When I first picked up the book, I did not want to put it down, I really wanted to know what happened. It¿s written with heart, honesty and such an amazing courage to unleash those cruel memories. It¿s not just a book full of historical facts it¿s a book of an innocent child¿s experience, a story. The family was strong and prevailed through hardships¿in many parts really touched me. I highly recommend this book, and especially to young Chinese Americans. As a young Chinese growing up in the U.S I did not invest much in Chinese history except through school textbooks.By reading Mulberry Child I was able to relate to the few years of experience I had living in China and learn about a piece of history that¿s part of my heritage. The reader will also find that they will not only learn about the Cultural Revolution, but as well as appreciation and inspiration.
Jian Ping¿s memoir of growing up during the Cultural Revolution emerges from the beating heart of Jian, the youngest among 20th century Chinese story-tellers. We as readers shrink to the size of a speck of a child caught within a gigantic world of political tyranny and terror, uncertainty and helplessness. Jian does not let go of her reading listeners until they arrive at the other end of the Cultural Revolution, safe within her staggering story of survival.
A real page-turner...I couldn¿t put it down. I knew nothing about the Cultural Revolution but now I feel like I beared witness to an extraordinary time and an extraordinary family.
Jian Ping has written a sensitive memoir. She narrates the effects of the Cultural Revolution in China on her own desires and ambitions as an adventurous and determined young girl. She looks back with a mixture of confusion, empathy and comprehension. The story is ultimately heartening. I recommend this book to readers who enjoy an engaging story told in transparent language, and to readers who want to learn from a firsthand account of a closed society little understood in the Western world.
And it's a childhood most western readers could never imagine. Growing up in China's Cultural Revolution was an exercise in endurance, hardship, betrayal, and cruelty, but there's also a sense of adventure here, as seen through a child's eyes. Jian Ping is a born storyteller, building word pictures with simple, direct language and an eye for the telling detail. Her characters, including herself, are sometimes courageous, sometimes less than that, but they're always three dimensional human beings trying to cope with a world that has gone completely mad.