"What is it like to be part of something greater than oneself. I
A protected childhood is interrupted when Lili's intellectual
parents are transported to a remote town and given a "re-education"
during her teenage years. She observes her parents' calm acceptance
of their predicament and rebels against them, government, and
idealism. When a Communist Party official abuses her, Lili flees
the refuge of family and joins a group of displaced youths.
Survival is her only stimulant. Shame becomes a brand, and she
accepts the label with self-loathing. Branded as a hooligan, Lili
Lin is released from prison as a cynical, detached young
The American Jewish journalist who enters her self-absorbed world
changes her life dramatically. Roy Goldstein has a thirst for
learning the ways, heritage, and politics of the Chinese people and
yearns to write their stories. Lili accompanies him to a remote
village to observe peasant life in China. The residents treat the
couple like anointed royalty; Roy drinks in their hospitality like
a child with his first Christmas gift, but Lili longs to return to
Beijing where nothing is expected of her except a stoic acceptance
of daily Communist routine.
Lili's slow transformation is heart wrenching. Her relationship
with Roy meets with bumps along the road she travels. When students
take to the streets in Beijing and assemble at Tiananmen Square,
Lili joins them to rediscover thoughts long hidden in her wayward
Religious perseverance, personal dignity, individual intellectual
pursuit, and the political process are themes Wang presents in
Lili's story; raw examination of Chinese subservience to government
entities after the Cultural Revolution is the meat of the novel.
Lili never questions her rights as an individual in a totalitarian
society until the passionate foreigner awakens her dormant
emotions. For a bittersweet history lesson about modern China, LILI
is a must-read. Wang's first English novel is a fine piece crafted
by a talented writer.
Reviewed by Judy Gigstad (firstname.lastname@example.org) on January 22, 2011
Lili: A Novel of Tiananmen