Tracing It Home: A Chinese Journey

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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 ...
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NY 1993 Hard cover First edition. 1st New in new dust jacket. Gift Quality. Brand New. Fast Arrival. Packaged in Bubble wrap. Confirmed delivery with tracking. Sewn binding. ... Paper over boards. 229 p. Audience: General/trade. Gift Quality. Brand New. Fast Arrival. Packaged in Bubble wrap. Confirmed delivery with tracking. Read more Show Less

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1993-09-01 Hardcover New in Like New jacket Mint condition hardcover book in its also brand new condition decorative dustjacket. Enjoy being the first to read this book! ... MendoPower Employment Services will immediately and carefully pack this book in high-quality bubble lined, envelopes. Then we send you a confirmation e-mail. We appreciate your business and welcome any questions. Read more Show Less

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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.

This searing, lyrical evocation of personal fate and history by an acclaimed Anglo-Chinese writer has the intimacy of a novel and the pace of a mystery. In lucid, nuanced yet hard-edged prose, Lynn Pan uses the true story of her grandfather's heirs to paint a wrenching portrait of contemporary China.

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Editorial Reviews

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.
Kirkus Reviews
Splendid, multifaceted recounting of the Shanghai-born author's search for her roots. Pan (Sons of the Yellow Emperor, 1990) combines history, social anthropology, and biography into a savory stir-fry that leaves us hungering for more. The death of Pan's father provided impetus for the author's search. So Chinese was their relationship that Pan could never ask him the myriad questions she had concerning their family—even though the two, isolated in a remote Canadian cabin, shared much of what was to be her father's last winter. Returning to Shanghai after his death, Pan rediscovered the long-lost family retainer, Hanze—who retained his nearly photographic memory despite having suffered 24 years in China's labor camps. As she made several trips to visit cemeteries, former family homes, buildings, and long-lost relatives, the years fell away for Pan, revealing family secrets, correcting misconceptions. Her grandfather was not a stevedore but a common coolie who became a labor contractor, then a very successful building contractor. Pan's parents, socialites of 30's and 40's Shanghai, resided in mansions, rode about in a long, gleaming Packard—he in a serge suit, she in furs—and danced to Harry James and Benny Goodman. Philandering came with the culture: wealth begot mistresses. Having married for love, Pan's unhappy grandmother committed suicide and was replaced by a mistress, "Madame," who ruled with an iron fist and usurped her stepson's inheritance. Then the Communists confiscated all, branding Grandfather a traitor and leaving Madame to die an impoverished alcoholic. Later on, history repeated itself and Pan's brother lost much of his birthright to his ownfather's mistress. Pan explores all of this thoroughly, even trekking beyond the Gobi Desert to see where Hanze was enslaved. The finest sort of historical and social writing: living, unpretentious, and moving, but with no recrimination or garment- rending.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781568360096
  • Publisher: Kodansha International
  • Publication date: 8/11/1993
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.84 (w) x 8.54 (h) x 0.92 (d)

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