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Books

Memory

A writer friend recently asked me to recommend books about memory. I ran into my basement to pore through my collection. Some books I can remember by title or author, some by their memorable characters, all of them by the look of a cover. Memory is a sensory act. For me, visual clues evoke memories. […]

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Chinese language Language

Mother Tongues

English is my mother tongue. That’s as much an accident of birth as the result of my parents’ concerted efforts to turn my brothers and me into real Americans. It worked. Neither of my brothers speak any language other than English. And if I hadn’t fallen in love with a Dutchman, I would have suffered […]

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Censorship Chinese prisons

Prisoner #42816

Prisoner #42816 spent 23 months in a Chinese jail, first in the Shanghai Detention Center and later in Qingpu Prison. The charge was “illegally acquiring personal information” of Chinese nationals, a claim he vehemently denies to this day. Prisoner #42816 is Briton Peter Humphrey. Last month, he published his first account of My life inside […]

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Amsterdam Chinese-American Language Los Angeles Shanghai

Migrant Writing

migrant ˈmʌɪɡr(ə)nt/ noun a person who moves from one place to another in order to find work or better living conditions I am a migrant. I moved from the United States to the Netherlands because my husband got the job of his dreams in Amsterdam. My parents are migrants, too, leaving China for America for […]

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Craft Family ghosts Revolution Shanghai

Socialism Is Great!

When I started work on my novel Peace Court, I looked for sources to feed my imagination. I found plenty of history books but almost no fiction that dwelt on Shanghai in the early 1950s. Certainly none that originated from inside China. I wondered why that was the case. This is what I learned. revolutionary […]