Yeh Yeh's House

Yeh Yeh's House

Book - 2004
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Growing up Chinese in Virginia in the Fifties, Evelina Chao's sense of historical or cultural context was colored by the images contained in her grandfather Yeh-Yeh's letters and news of his life as an eminent poet, philosopher, and theologian in Beijing. Her geologist father and biologist mother suffered a kind of cultural dyslexia in the American South, having fled Beijing after the Maoist Revolution in 1949. The young Evelina, foreign and isolated, believed that in China she would find the meaning of her life.
And then she found music. The rigors of training to become a professional classical musician seduced her into thinking she no longer required Yeh-Yeh's benediction, that her Chinese heritage was secondary. When Yeh-Yeh died at 92, she realized that her mythical notions of China had died with him. All that reminded her were her uncles and aunts who still lived in the family house in Beijing.
Accompanied by her mother, acting as her interpreter and all-around passport, she traveled to Beijing when China was undergoing rapid transformation following the Cultural Revolution in the early 1980s, two years before the Tiananmen uprising. Every trace of old China was being expunged, the ancient neighborhoods plowed under. "Yeh-Yeh's House" is a voyage of self-discovery and mother-daughter understanding set against the backdrop of a China that no longer exists.
Publisher: New York : St. Martin's Press, 2004.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780312330774
Characteristics: 287 p. :,ill., map ;,25 cm.


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Sep 15, 2014

This book is so interesting because it's written by a Chinese-American woman who was born and raised in the U.S. yet most of her family stayed in China and experienced the Cultural Revolution. She goes back to visit them when she is in her late thirties and it's amazing to see the differences between her life and theirs. I definitely recommend it for anyone who wants to learn more about China, during the Nationalist vs. Communist era, the Communist reign, and the Cultural Revolution. Her family lived through China during the 1900s and it's heartbreaking to hear some of their stories.

Jun 07, 2006

Of interest to Minnesota readers because she tells has St Paul references in the story. It is fun to see the reaction of her Chinese family when they come to visit in the middle of the book. The best quality is to share her journey to China with both an American perspective and the Chinese understanding from her background.

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