Sharjah International Book Fair November 4th-14th - Save the Date!

Rediscover: Da Chen

Chinese author Da Chen, whose family was persecuted during China's Cultural Revolution, died December 17 at age 57. His wife, Dr. Sun-Ling Chen, told the Associated Press that Da Chen "watched his father being hung up by his thumbs and beaten and his grandfather stoned frequently with rocks thrown at him by children" for being prosperous landlords prior to the Communist revolution. "He would undergo a lot of humiliation parades where they would throw fruit and other things at him. Frequently he was sent to labor camps where he worked with people twice his age digging irrigation trenches in the mountains." After Mao's death in 1976, Da Chen was able to graduate from Beijing Language and Culture University. He received a scholarship to Nebraska's Union College and later to Columbia University, sometimes supporting himself as a Chinese restaurant waiter. He earned a law degree and became an investment banker.

Da Chen's first attempt at writing was a legal thriller inspired by John Grisham. When this and a second novel failed, his wife encouraged Chen to write about his childhood in China. The memoir Colors of the Mountain (1999) was an immediate success. He later wrote China's Son: Growing Up in the Cultural Revolution (2001), Sounds of the River: A Memoir (2002), and the novels Brothers (2006) and My Last Empress (2012). His most recent book is Girl Under a Red Moon (Scholastic Focus, 2019). Colors of the Mountain is available in paperback from Anchor ($15.95, 9780385720601).