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“It is my hope that this memoir may serve as a reminder and a memorial to all of the children who were lost in the Chaos,” Emily Wu writes at the beginning of Feather in the Storm.
Told from a child’s and young girl’s point of view, Wu’s spellbinding account—which spans nineteen years of growing up during the chaos of China’s Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution—opens on her third birthday as she meets her father for the first time in a concentration camp. A well-known academic and translator of American literary classics, her father had been designated an “ultra-rightist” and class enemy. As a result, Wu’s family would be torn apart and subjected to an unending course of humiliation, hardship and physical and psychological abuse. Wu tells her story of this hidden Holocaust, in which millions of children and their families died, through a series of vivid vignettes that brilliantly—and innocently—evoke the cruelty and brutality of what was taking place daily in the world around her. From watching helplessly as the family apartment is ransacked and her father carted off by former students to be publicly beaten, to her own rape and the hard labor and primitive rituals of life in a remote peasant village, Wu is persecuted as a child of the damned.
“Wu’s narrative is poignant, disturbing and unsentimental, and, despite the nature of what it describes, is filled with the resiliency of youth–and even humor. That Emily Wu survived is remarkable. That she is able to infuse her story with such immediacy, power and unexpected beauty is the greatness of this book. Feather in the Storm is an unforgettable story of the courage and silent suffering of one small child set in a quicksand world of endless terror.” —Ha Jin
“This gripping and moving memoir of a courageous young girl growing up during the Cultural Revolution points up the fantastic atrocities committed by Mao in the name of progress.” —Nien Cheng, author of Life and Death in Shanghai