Sounds of the River: A Memoir

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In this "equally beguiling sequel to his acclaimed memoir, Colors of the Mountain" (Kirkus Reviews), teenager Da Chen takes his first train ride away from the farm he was raised on to his new university life in Beijing. He soon faces a host of ghastly challenges, including poor living conditions, lack of food, and suicidal roommates. Undaunted by these hurdles, and armed with a dogged determination to learn English and "all things Western," he competes to win a chance to study in America -- a chance that rests in the shrewd and corrupt hands of the almighty professors.

Poetic, hilarious, and heartbreaking, Sounds of the River is a gloriously written coming-of-age saga that chronicles a remarkable journey -- a travelogue of the heart.

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About the author

Da Chen is the author of Colors of the Mountain, a New York Times bestseller; Sounds of the River: A Young Man's University Days in Beijing; Brother; and two books for children, Wandering Warrior and China's Son: Growing Up in the Cultural Revolution. He grew up in China during the Cultural Revolution and now lives in New York.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Harper Collins
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Published on
Oct 18, 2011
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Pages
320
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ISBN
9780062133601
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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"I was born in southern China in 1962, in the tiny town of Yellow Stone. They called it the Year of Great Starvation."

In 1962, as millions of Chinese citizens were gripped by Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution and the Red Guards enforced a brutal regime of communism, a boy was born to a poor family in southern China. This family—the Chens—had once been respected landlords in the village of Yellow Stone, but now they were among the least fortunate families in the country, despised for their "capitalist" past. Grandpa Chen couldn't leave the house for fear of being beaten to death; the children were spit upon in the street; and their father was regularly hauled off to labor camps, leaving the family of eight without a breadwinner. Da Chen, the youngest child, seemed destined for a life of poverty, shame, and hunger.

But winning humor and an indomitable spirit can be found in the most unexpected places. Colors of the Mountain is a story of triumph, a memoir of a boyhood full of spunk, mischief, and love. The young Da Chen is part Horatio Alger, part Holden Caul-field; he befriends a gang of young hoodlums as well as the elegant, elderly Chinese Baptist woman who teaches him English and opens the door to a new life. Chen's remarkable story is full of unforgettable scenes of rural Chinese life: feasting on oysters and fried peanuts on New Year's Day, studying alongside classmates who wear red armbands and quote Mao, and playing and working in the peaceful rice fields near his village.

Da Chen's story is both captivating and endearing, filled with the universal human quality that distinguishes the very best memoirs. It proves once again that the concerns of childhood transcend time and place.
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