Return to the Kitchen Table Forum | Post a Follow-Up

 o
Book of the Week

Posted by stacey_mb (My Page) on
Thu, Mar 21, 13 at 11:44

Mao’s 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 Mao’s 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 “serve glorious communism.” 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, “A moving, true story of family love and a boy’s great courage on his journey from terrible poverty to the world stage - one of the books of the year.”


Follow-Up Postings:

 o
RE: Book of the Week

There is a movie about this too. I watched it several years ago on Netflix and it was really good.


 o
RE: Book of the Week

That sounds really good, thanks for the heads up.


 o
RE: Book of the Week

FYI...Kindle has it for less than $5.00. Sounds like a good one.


 o
RE: Book of the Week

I started to watch the movie after I read the book, Jewels, but found that it didn't match the movie I had in my head while reading, so didn't finish LOL! I really will have to give the film another try. My sisters-in-law read the book and also liked the movie. Sometimes I wonder what is more satisfying - seeing a movie first, then reading the book, or the other way around.


 o
RE: Book of the Week

Rhizo, Less than $5.00 is a great price for this book!

It came as a surprise to me, that at the end of the book the author mentioned that his good friend from ballet school had joined the ballet company in my own city, that being the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. His friend, whose photo is shown in the book together with the author in New York in 1979, was named Zhang Weiqiang but changed it to Johnny W. Chang. He is originally from Shanghai, China and didn't have to defect, but moved to Canada under a new Chinese open door policy. He joined the RWB as Principal Dancer in 1992 and became Ballet Master in 2002, a position he currently holds.


 o
RE: Book of the Week

Thank you for posting the book of the week. I am enjoying your posts. I haven't read this one yet, and I will add it to my list.


 o
RE: Book of the Week

Thanks. I love book recommendations and this sounds like a winner.


 o
RE: Book of the Week

We watched the movie last night after a bit of convincing that this was more of a human drama than a "ballet " movie, lol. Robert's interest never flagged. I'll bet that the book is better than the movie.....just a speculation. It was an enjoyable film.


 o
RE: Book of the Week

Rhizo_1, I'm happy that you and Robert enjoyed the movie. I'm pretty sure the book would be better than the movie, hard to include all that information in a movie 90 minutes or 2 hours long. I plan to watch it though to see how the film makers show the people and events in the book.


 o
RE: Book of the Week

Stacey, thank you for the post. I purchased the Kindle version and ordered the movie on Netflix. Having just returned from China, the storyline interests me.

Jodi-


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!


Return to the Kitchen Table Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.


Learn more about in-text links on this page here