Reviews F I C T I O N Ask the Sun by He Dong. Translated by Katherine Hanson. Seattle: Women in Translation, 1997. 112 pages, paper $12.95. "Not so very long ago the Middle Kingdom had a sun whose name was Mao Zedong. He called China's children morning suns. Today I ask the sun." This epigraph begins Ask the Sun, a lyrical collection of short stories by Chinese poet and short-story writer He Dong, who lives in Norway, where she is a researcher at the University of Oslo. Born in Beijing in 1960, He Dong describes what it was like to be one of Mao's many "children," to grow up under the influence that he radiated across China. She is part of that generation whose childhood was marked by the sudden disappearances and reappearances of family members, by public humiliations and abrupt reversals of status, and by constant surveillance and self-censorship. It's no surprise that Mao's children became adults who ask the eternal question of childhood: why? The only person who can answer them is dead, so the question hangs in the background, like a dark sun, like the indelible memory of Mao himself. "Time," says the narrator
Manoa – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Oct 1, 2000
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