Wu, Emily 1958- (Wu Yimao)
Wu, Emily 1958- (Wu Yimao)
Born 1958, in China; daughter of Wu Ningkun (a professor); children: Erik, Jasmine. Education: Attended Anhui Teachers University.
Writer. Subject of documentary film Up to the Mountain, Down to the River.
(With Larry Engelmann) Feather in the Storm: A Childhood Lost in Chaos (memoir), Pantheon (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor to periodicals, including World Journal, San Jose Mercury News, Xingdao Daily, and Full Circle.
Emily Wu recounts her experiences growing up during the Chinese Cultural Revolution in Feather in the Storm: A Childhood Lost in Chaos, written with Larry Engelmann. Wu was born in 1958, shortly after her father, a college professor, was denounced as a "class enemy" by the Chinese communist government. The denouncement changed the lives of the whole family. Over the next two decades, Wu's family was subject to public humiliation, psychological abuse, and torture. As part of communist leader Mao Zedong's "re-education policy," Wu was sent to work in the rice fields in a peasant village in Anhui province. "Wu's family is repeatedly separated and united, often in different combinations," commented Susan Szeliga in Newsweek International. "Her father is allowed to teach, then censored and imprisoned or sent off to do manual labor. But they survive through improvisation, luck and strength."
Feather in the Storm received generally strong reviews. Booklist contributor Steven Schroeder noted that it "draws equally on oral history, adult memories, and the narrative techniques of survival tales and conversion stories." Terry Hong, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, remarked that "Wu rises from the ashes of death and destruction to give voice to the lost and tortured innocent souls of her haunting childhood." According to New York Times contributor Mick Sussman, Feather in the Storm "is an effective testament to what Mao's social experiment inflicted on one girl."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Wu, Emily, and Larry Engelmann, Feather in the Storm: A Childhood Lost in Chaos, Pantheon (New York, NY), 2006.
Booklist, September 15, 2006, Steven Schroeder, review of Feather in the Storm, p. 19.
Newsweek International, October 16, 2006, Susan Szeliga, "Nests with No Birds: A Starkly Vivid Memoir of Life in Mao's China."
New York Times, December 24, 2006, Mick Sussman, "Nonfiction Chronicle," review of Feather in the Storm.
San Francisco Chronicle, October 8, 2006, Terry Hong, "Growing Up in Mao's Deadly China."
Up to the Mountain, Down to the River Web site,http://www.uptothemountain.com (January 15, 2007).