Left Coast Writers®: Wei Yang Chao - Red Fire (Corte Madera)

Saturday, April 8, 2017 - 7:00pm

In conversation with Jazmin Darkznik

In August 1966, a 14-year-old boy in Beijing is thrust into violence and chaos as the Cultural Revolution begins to blaze across China. Fifty years later, Red Fire: Growing Up During the Chinese Cultural Revolution, offers the first intimate account from someone who lived through these events and survived. What was the Cultural Revolution like as seen through the eyes of a child? How do people surrender themselves to ideological frenzy? How does one break free? Wei Yang Chao tells a riveting story: how rebels attacked and publicly humiliated his family, upended his education, and sent him out into a country rendered unrecognizable by violence and radical ideology. At heart a gentle boy, when he is swept up by the Red Guards he finds himself at the center of a bloody revolution. The unflinchingly observant narrator of Red Fire reveals his families’ struggles in an increasingly isolated and hostile culture. Sent to boarding school in Beijing, young Wei Yang finds that beyond the gates enclosing that peculiar, closed world, conflict roils Chinese society. After mass rallies at Tiananmen Square, he witnesses attacks on teachers and professors, and the disintegration of his parents’ lives as tolerance and freedom begin to crumble and he himself is cast into exile. Red Fire chronicles social upheaval through the keen yet naive eyes of a teenager, giving readers a fascinating and unprecedented glimpse into the Chinese Cultural Revolution. This is a rare and mesmerizing account, told with real force and heartbreaking honesty.

Wei Yang Chao was born in Guangzhou in southeastern China and moved with his family to Beijing in 1965, on the eve of the Cultural Revolution. In the aftermath he worked as a translator and tour guide, speaking Mandarin, Cantonese and English.

In 1981 he came to America to study at the University of California, Berkeley, where he received both his Master’s and Ph.D. degrees. He later obtained engineering training at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Pursuing a career in innovative business technology, he founded one of China’s “Top 100” e-Business and Internet companies and served as Chairman/CEO for sixteen years.

He now lives in both the San Francisco Bay Area and Beijing, working to promote cultural understanding and exchange between China and the United States. He is the author of many books and articles in Chinese on the topics of technology and culture. Red Fire is his first major publication in English.

Jasmin Darznik is the New York Times bestselling author of The Good Daughter: A Memoir of My Mother's Hidden Life.

 

 

Location: 
51 Tamal Vista Blvd
Corte Madera, CA 94925