Book of the Week
MaoÃ¢ÂÂs last dancer by Li Cunxin.
This is a gripping, fascinating autobiography of a man who as a child was selected to train as a ballet dancer in Communist China and who later defected to the U.S.
I will only describe some of this heartening rags-to-riches story, in order to avoid spoilers! The author describes his impoverished childhood in a small village in China. At age 11, he was chosen pretty well at random by Madam MaoÃ¢ÂÂs cultural delegates to leave his family and study ballet in Beijing. He was to eventually become known as one of the greatest ballet dancers in the world, meeting Barbara Bush and other notable individuals during his career. In 1979, he arrived in Texas as part of a cultural exchange, wary of class enemies and prepared to Ã¢ÂÂserve glorious communism.Ã¢ÂÂ His political opinions evolved and an exciting series of events describe how he defected to the U.S. However, at one point, he is lured into the Chinese embassy, and now that he is no longer on U.S. soil, the Chinese government is holding him captive and trying to force him to return to China. ...but the story doesn't end there!
A great read, written for a general audience, not only for lovers of ballet. From a book review, Ã¢ÂÂA moving, true story of family love and a boyÃ¢ÂÂs great courage on his journey from terrible poverty to the world stage - one of the books of the year.Ã¢ÂÂ