Shen, Fan (A.) 1955-
SHEN, Fan (A.) 1955-
PERSONAL: Born 1955, in China; naturalized American citizen. Education: Worker's University, China, Certificate (mathematics, electronics), 1975; Northwestern University (China), Certificate (computer science), 1977; Lanzhou University, China, B.A., 1982; University of Nebraska, M.A., 1986; Marquette University, Ph.D., 1992; Yale University, post-doctoral study, 1993.
ADDRESSES: Offıce—Department of English, Rochester Community and Technical College, 336 Memorial Hall, 851 30th Ave. SE, Rochester, MN 55904-4999.
CAREER: Writer, translator, and educator. Three Gorge Commune, China, farm hand, 1968-72; 5702 Aircraft Factory, China, assembly worker, 1972-74, electrician, 1974-77; Tianjin Institute of Light Industry, China, lecturer, 1982-85; Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI, instructor; Rockland Community College, New York, assistant professor, 1991-94; Rochester Community and Technical College, Rochester, MN, professor, 1994—. Military service: People's Republic of China's Red Guard, 1966-68.
AWARDS, HONORS: National Gold Key Book Award for Translation, 1988, for Superlearning.
(Translator) Sheila Ostrander and Lynn Schroeder, Superlearning, Gansu Publishers (Lanzhou, China), 1983.
(Translator) Bernard Levegoed, Phases, Xinhua (Beijing, China), 1986.
(Translator) Michael Ende, Momo, Gansu Publishers (Lanzhou, China), 1988.
Gang of One: Memoirs of a Red Guard, University of Nebraska Press (Lincoln, NE), 2004.
Contributor of articles to anthologies and journals, including Paideuma, Asian Theater Journal, China Journal, and Beijing Journal of Science.
SIDELIGHTS: Fan Shen, recipient of the Gold Key Book Award for Translation, wrote his first book, Gang of One: Memoirs of a Red Guard, about his experiences while serving in the Red Guard during China's Cultural Revolution in the late 1960s. The Red Guard was a citizens' group consisting mainly of teenagers whose zeal in protecting the revolutionary aims of the Communist Party made it a dominant and feared force. In what Booklist reviewer Jennifer Mattson called a "compulsively readable memoir," Shen recounts his early life and describes how he escaped the confines of the stifling political system of China at that time. "Forced labor, a season when he was trained and appointed 'barefoot doctor' in a village, time in a dismal airplane factory and a lucky chance to attend university are told in harrowing detail," noted Rocky Mount Telegram reviewer Mae Woods Bell of this "amazing journey." Shen's autobiography opens with a book burning the then-twelve-year-old author witnessed that was ordered by Mao Zedong, communist leader of China. As a young man, Shen was a supporter of the Red Guard, but as he grew to realize how repressive Chinese communism was, he manipulated the system to find a way to escape it.
While various authors have treated the topic of China's cultural revolution prior to Shen's account, "the details can still shock and astound," wrote a Publishers Weekly contributor. Mattson added that the author's "wry, anecdotal storytelling style" spurs readers to follow Shen's tale, which involves the help of a Christian nun, the rupture of his family ties, the friendship of a scholar who pays his airfare, and the tense application for a visa to leave China for the United States. This book ends with Shen realizing his dream in the form of a flight to San Francisco and the beginning of a new life.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Shen, Fan, Gang of One: Memoirs of a Red Guard, University of Nebraska Press (Lincoln, NE), 2004.
Booklist, March 1, 2004, Jennifer Mattson, review of Gang of One, p. 1125.
Publishers Weekly, February 16, 2004, review of Gang of One, p. 161.
Rochester Community College Web site,http://www.roch.edu/ (August 30, 2004), "Fan Shen."
Rocky MountTelegram,http://www.rockymounttelegram.com/ (August 30, 2004), Mae Woods Bell, "Former Red Guard Recalls Revolution and Escape."*