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Bright Swallow
Making Choices in Mao's China: A Memoir
Author: Vivian Bi RRP A$9.99
Publisher: Hybrid Publishers Pub Date: 2019-02-15
BIC Category: Memoirs ISBN: 9781925736120
BISAC Category1: BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Personal Memoirs
BISAC Category2: BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Cultural Heritage


"September 1972 was a happy month for me, because my mother had lung cancer. I hate to say those words, but it's the truth."
My Chinese name - Xiyan, meaning bright swallow - was chosen by my mother with great expectations. As one of China's "new women", she had travelled widely, dressed elegantly, and dined in fine restaurants. In the bleakness of Mao's China, she saw little opportunity for her only daughter to live such a life. Her last words to me were: "At least I lived a life". She could not have known how much defiance these words would stir in me.
Orphaned at fifteen, I fought against cold, hunger and discrimination. Without an adult at home, I listened to vinyl records of "bourgeois" music, read banned books and became a secret storyteller. I saved every penny for train trips to the country's natural wonders - something unheard of at that time. Sent to the countryside for re-education, I drew water from wells, collected manure from pigsties, drove a horse-drawn cart and bonded with animals. However, I never stopped looking for chances to escape the life that I had been placed in.
Bright Swallow is a moving story of endurance, hope and resilience.

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