In writing this fascinatingly informative book, the author Anna Wang has fulfilled a promise she made to herself long after the terrible massacre at Tiananmen Square, Beijing, a promise to tell her story about the events at that time.
Born in China in 1966, a few years later than myself in England, Anna has really opened my eyes through her memoir to how different life is in East Asia.
The author was abandoned by her mother into the care of her grandmother who lived in Beijing. It is through Anna’s recollections of her childhood and youth, that we discover how strict the upbringing of Chinese children is, and also what living conditions were like in the capital city during her youth. Perhaps the most eye-opening part of this whole book for me was to discover the different ‘regimes’ which Chinese people have to, and still do adhere to, and the class distinctions and restrictions imposed on its people by the government, and their policies.
It wasn’t until she was accepted into Peking University in Beijing as a microelectronics major that Anna experienced protests for the first time. The death on the 15th April 1989 of a former Communist Leader Hu Yaobang, who had worked hard to move China toward a more open political system, and had become a symbol of democratic reform caused the initial uprising in Tiananmen Square. This commenced with the students marching through the capital to Tiananmen Square. From that beginning the uprising grew, hunger strikes, and rally’s caused Premier Li Peng to impose martial law on 19th May.
Anna’s memories of these times are full of fear, with troupes roaming the street, innocent citizens shot, families decimated, and a city in lockdown. On the 4th June, 1989 the demonstration ended when Chinese troops fired on civilians and students. The true death toll has never been released…
At the time of the incident, and after, she worked as a secretary at Canon Beijing, and then went on to have a successful writing career. She has had published other books about her life and experiences, and is married to Lao Xin who she met when he was a student of literature in college. The couple have two children, and with her own vivid childhood memories, their future is paramount to her.
Throughout her extremely interesting life this determined woman, with strength and fortitude, has intermittently lived in Beijing, and also in America, New Zealand and Canada. Through her vividly detailed accounts the author gives her reader a real insight into life in China, and being Chinese. For me, an added bonus was that her recollections of her grandmother’s stories to her during childhood, gives a fascinating glimpse into early 20th century life, including the custom of foot binding.
I would highly recommend this fascinating book to anyone interested in history, memoirs, and life in China through the 20th, and into the 21st century.
About the Author:
Born and raised in Beijing, China, Anna Wang received her BA from Peking University and is a full-time writer. She has published nine books in Chinese. These include two short story collections, one essay collection, four novels, and two translations. An English translation of her short stories, Beijing Women: Stories, was published in 2014. Inconvenient Memories is her debut book written in English.
About the Book:
Inconvenient Memories is a rare and truthful memoir of a young woman’s coming of age amid the Tiananmen Square Protests of 1989. In 1989, Anna Wang was one of a lucky few who worked for a Japanese company, Canon. She traveled each day between her grandmother’s dilapidated commune-style apartment and an extravagant office just steps from Tiananmen Square. Her daily commute on Beijing’s impossibly crowded buses brought into view the full spectrum of China’s economic and social inequalities during the economic transition. When Tiananmen Protests broke out, her Japanese boss was concerned whether the protests would obstruct Canon’s assembly plant in China, and she was sent to Tiananmen Square on a daily basis to take photos for her boss to analyze for evidence of turning tides. From the perspective as a member of the emerging middle class, she observed firsthand that Tiananmen Protests stemmed from Chinese people’s longing for political freedom and their fear for the nascent market economy, an observation that readers have never come across from the various accounts of the historical events so far.
Available from Amazon in Hardcover, Kindle and Audiobook formats https://www.amazon.com/Inconvenient-Memories-Personal-Tiananmen-Incident/dp/0996640576/ref=sr_1_1?qid=1559118435&refinements=p_27%3AAnna+Wang&s=books&sr=1-1&text=Anna+Wang