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Book Review


Living Elsewhere:Twenty Portraits ofOrdinary People

  by Yan LizhongPublished by the Chinese OverseasPublishing House, May 2012

  Yan Lizhong is a journalistwith China’s Life magazine.This book is based on hisexperiences as a reporter overthe past decade, in which he developeda method of depictingordinary people and their livesfrom singular perspectives. His20 subjects for the book includea cook, a delivery boy, astreet singer, a miner, an AIDSvolunteer, a prison guard, aprivate collector, a foster parentfor left-behind children, adramatic actor, a reform schoolteacher, an environment activist,a resident of a landmineriddenvillage, a retired worldchampion weightlifter, a cyclistwho circled the world, a forestranger, a rural doctor, a retiredsoldier, a porcelain painter,a tomb guard, and a railroadmaintenance worker. Criticshave commented that thesilent voices and lonely facesdepicted in Yan’s book showcasesome overlooked pieces ofglistening China and the fastchangingera.

  A Broken Family:The Desperate Relationbetween aFather and His Sonfrom Chinese Mainlandto Taiwan

  by Liang Xuan

  Published by Guangxi NormalUniversity Press, March 2012

  This book recounts storiesabout a broken family separatedby the Taiwan Straits, aswell as the author’s personallife. The author led a life full offrustration: He was abandonedby his parents, became a monkwhen he was young, skippedschool, became a thief, foughtwith his father, and ran awayfrom home. The author alsodescribes how his father didn’tshow at his wedding, took overNational Taiwan University,and participated in campaignsto defend China’s Diaoyu Islands.

  The book also illustrateshow the author reunited withhis mother across the TaiwanStraits after four decades ofseparation. The stories of thebroken family reflect the beginningand end of a drifting era.Instead of important historicevents, the book focuses onstories from ordinary life onChina’s mainland and TaiwanProvince.

  Liang Xuan, born MaGuoguang, is a famous writerin Taiwan. He was born inthe Beibei District of Chongqingon October 10, 1942, andmoved to Taiwan when he wasfive years old. He received amaster’s degree in televisionand radio at Brooklyn College,City University of New York,and worked as a radio andtelevision anchor and producer.His father, Ma Ting-Ying, wasa prestigious paleontologist,marine geologist and biologist,as well as a pioneer of China’smarine geology research.

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