Open Up, City Gate by Bei DaoOpen Up, City Gate by Bei Dao

Open Up, City Gate

byBei DaoTranslated byJeffrey Yang

Paperback | April 25, 2017

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In 2001, to visit his sick father, the exiled poet Bei Dao returned to his homeland for the first time in over twenty years. The city of his birth was totally unrecognizable. “My city that once was had vanished,” he writes: “I was a foreigner in my hometown.” The shock of this experience released a flood of memories and emotions that sparked Open Up, City Gate. In this lyrical autobiography of growing up—from the birth of the People’s Republic, through the chaotic years of the Great Leap Forward, and on into the Cultural Revolution—Bei Dao uses his extraordinary gifts as a poet and storyteller to create another Beijing, a beautiful memory palace of endless alleyways and corridors, where personal narrative mixes with the momentous history he lived through. At the center of the book are his parents and siblings, and their everyday life together through famine and festival. Open Up, City Gate is told in an episodic, fluid style that moves back and forth through the poet’s childhood, recreating the smells and sounds, the laughter and the danger, of a boy’s coming of age during a time of enormous change and upheaval.
Bei Dao, born in Beijing in 1949, has traveled and lectured around the world. He has received numerous international awards for his poetry, and is an honorary member of The American Academy of Arts and Letters. Bei Dao, now a U.S. citizen, is currently Professor of Humanities in the Center for East Asian Studies at the Chinese Universi...
Title:Open Up, City GateFormat:PaperbackDimensions:240 pages, 8 × 5.2 × 0.81 inPublished:April 25, 2017Publisher:WW NortonLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0811226433

ISBN - 13:9780811226431


Editorial Reviews

Written with honesty, conscience and courage, this is a powerful account that merges personal memories with the collective history in the making of modern China, and inspires the reader to consider the many important social and political concerns in Chinese society that still remain today. — Asian Review of BooksThe language of Bei Dao’s memoir, seamlessly translated by fellow poet Yang, is elegantly simple and guilelessly accessible….Winter white cabbage, vinyl records, pet rabbits, banned books, and first and last “I love yous” provide intimate glimpses that “open up” to reveal extraordinary, immediate testimony of challenges survived in a life intensely lived. — Terry Hong (Booklist)City Gate, Open Up is an ocean of recollections. Bei Dao's impressionistic account of his childhood and youth in Beijing, is unlike any book he has ever written. He builds an imaginative city that readers can actually inhabit, much like his early poetry creates concepts worth living for. -- Ratik Asokan, Caravan Magazine — Ratik Asokan (Caravan Magazine)A nuanced account of China in the era of the Cultural Revolution, seen through one young man’s eyes. Since that young man became a poet, it is also beautifully textured, full of the sounds, sights, and scents of a Beijing that is no more. — Publisher's WeeklyBei Dao uses words as if he were fighting for his life with them. He has found a way to speak for all of us. — Jonathan Spence (The New York Times Book Review)Bei Dao's writing provides ample evidence of the written word's potential to effect political change.... Few living writers possess a voice as elegant. — Andrew Ervin (The Philadelphia Inquirer)In 18 essays, crafted with poetic precision and enriched by Jeffrey Yang’s assiduous translation, Bei Dao depicts a cast of memorable characters with humor and insight: a tenacious family nanny always on the lookout for revolutionary opportunities; a talented schoolmate who sneaked across the border to Burma to join guerrilla forces; and the author’s father, a former government propaganda official and a moody authoritarian at home... [These] essays are clear and intimate, like the black-and-white snapshots scattered through the text. While the descriptive opulence of his prose evokes Beijing’s sights, sounds and smells, it can be overwhelming at times... Poignant. — Wenguang Huang (Wall Street Journal)What a fine book! Funny, astute, touching, subtle, personal, widely human. — Gary SnyderWith precise lyricism, Bei Dao resurrects a vanished city and time in China, creating a rich literary-cum-historical record of the world’s greatest national transformation. But this tender memoir by a great poet also describes the poignant longings, small joys and sorrows of all of us who grew up in places called ‘underdeveloped.’ — Pankaj MishraThe soul of post-Mao poetry, Bei Dao reveals in this intimate, lyrical memoir a China that still haunts us with its brutal past and aching humanity. Like Balzac's Paris, Dickens' London, and Pushkin's St. Petersburg, Bei Dao's Beijing is a microcosm caught in a time warp, forever titillating our imagination. — Yunte Huang, Editor of The Big Red Book of Modern Chinese LiteratureCity Gate, Open Up holds a vertiginous, intimate kaleidoscope of vignettes and portraits, in which a changing city, family, community, and country are presented as quick life-drawings, sketched from within. The drama of famine becomes a few candies in the mouths of half-starved boys scouring fields for weeds; the Cultural Revolution, an attic-hidden library of pre-war movie magazines, anatomy, and fiction carried into a hutong courtyard’s fire for burning. Soon after, the author builds a traveling bookcase backpack, holding only the works of Mao. One local official’s suicide abuts his successor’s ferocious skill at ping pong; a son discovers, as inner cultural inheritance, his father’s “little tyrant,” then struggles for tenderness as time rearranges their relative power. From its haunting opening description of Beijing’s early light bulbs, their rarity and weakness, this book’s jump-cuts of memory move backward and forward in time. These pages illuminate, obliquely and acutely, the story of a now-famous dissident poet’s rebellious emergence and survival, within the story of the intelligentsia’s larger harrowing amid the Chinese Revolution’s whiplash unfoldings. — Jane Hirshfield