Tracing It Home

Tracing It Home

by Lynn Pan
     
 

In the tradition of Wild Swans and Life and Death Shanghai, Lynn Pan's Tracing It Home weaves a captivating tale of a family caught up in the turmoil of twentieth-century China. Set in motion by the death of the author's mother, the narrative chronicles the unraveling of an intricate puzzle of familial relationships spanning three generations and two continents. Here… See more details below

Overview

In the tradition of Wild Swans and Life and Death Shanghai, Lynn Pan's Tracing It Home weaves a captivating tale of a family caught up in the turmoil of twentieth-century China. Set in motion by the death of the author's mother, the narrative chronicles the unraveling of an intricate puzzle of familial relationships spanning three generations and two continents. Here is Shanghai in the forties and fifties - a universe of drug addiction, anarchy, suffering wives, and concubines - a way of life on the brink of collapse. From this world emerges a parade of unforgettable individuals: the grandfather, a flawed but brilliant tycoon, and his two mistresses, Pearl and Jade Peach; the mother and grandmother, who refuse to waive their claims to love and fidelity; and Hanze, the devoted family retainer who paid for his loyalty with twenty-four years in labor camps. Pan follows these lives through the years of Japanese occupation, revolution, and exile, and shows how the larger wave of history takes its toll on the hearts and minds of ordinary people. With the intimacy of a novel and the pace of a mystery, Tracing It Home is a profoundly moving portrait of China in this century.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal - Library Journal
In piecing together her family's history, Pan (author of five other books on China) provides here much-needed knowledge about Chinese social conditions between 1930 and 1980. She describes prerevolutionary Shanghai as a city in which people had the ``freedom to press pleasure to excess.'' Her grandmother committed suicide to escape the misery caused by the knowledge of her husband's infidelity; her grandfather and paternal aunt eventually were destroyed by their opium addiction. With the dawning of the Communist era, every attempt was made to squeeze out potential dissent with mass executions and imprisonment. While Pan points out that her version of conditions in China is a mixture of probable truths, mostly from a family retainer who was imprisoned by the Communists for 24 years, and distorted family memories, two important themes emerge. First, Chinese people define the past as part of their present and, second, ``fate'' is a significant force even for the most rational and adaptable of individuals. Highly recommended.-- Peggy Spitzer Christoff, Oak Park, Ill.
Mary Ellen Sullivan
Here is a stunning story that is as compelling as fiction and as warm and jolting as a relative's reminiscences of family history. Masterfully crafted, "Tracing It Home" zigzags across its author's familial past, ranging from the days of her powerful and wealthy grandfather in prerevolutionary Shanghai through her father's exile in Hong Kong and Malaysia to Pan's own years of weaving together the lives and stories of these men and their wives, concubines, sisters, servants, and sons. Pan creates a tapestry of twentieth-century Chinese life that shows the clash of old and new ways, the effects of Communism, the brutality of the cultural revolution, and the determination of some extraordinary people. Her vivid portrait of decadent, corrupt Shanghai during the Japanese occupation is particularly notable, playing like a cross between "film noir" and a Russian novel. Pan is patently a natural storyteller with quite a tale to tell.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780749315917
Publisher:
Random House Adult Trade Publishing Group
Publication date:
12/01/1993
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
5.12(w) x 7.87(h) x (d)

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