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Aug 30, 2011
| ISBN 9780307355805
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Aug 30, 2011 | ISBN 9780307355805
The eagerly-awaited new book by Denise Chong, author of the award-winning, national bestseller, The Concubine’s Children.In her first book in a decade, beloved author Denise Chong, tells the story of a man who humiliated a repressive regime in front of the entire world, and whose daring gesture informs our view of human rights to this day.Despite his family’s impeccable Communist roots, Lu Decheng, a small town bus mechanic, grew up intuiting all that was wrong with Mao’s China. As a young man he believes truth and decency mattered, only to learn that preserving the Chairman’s legacy mattered more. Lu’s story reads like Shakespearean drama, peppered with defiance, love and betrayal. His steadfast refusal to acquiesce comes to a head, but not an end, with his infamous defacing of Mao’s portrait during the 1989 protests in Tiananmen Square.
Denise Chong is the author of the family memoir The Concubine’s Children and The Girl in the Picture, a story of the napalm girl from the Vietnam War. She lives with her family in Ottawa.
Praise for Egg on Mao:“Chong is a masterful storyteller. . . .Egg on Mao is a lovely and fascinating look at not only China, but also the power of friendship and human decency.” —Quill and Quire “Egg on Mao speaks the universal language of human rights.” —The Daily NewsPraise for The Concubine’s Children:“Beautiful, haunting and wise, [The Concubine’ s Children] lingers in the mind like a portrait one returns to in a family album, and elicits the same mysterious response of love, melancholy and pride.” — The New York Times Book Review
No matter where one stood on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, to look north toward the portrait of Mao Zedong that hung on the gate to the Forbidden City was to meet the Chairman’s steady gaze. The composition of the painting made sure of that: the subject’s head is dead centre, his shoulders are square to the front, his eyes stare directly outward. That the portrait should dominate Tiananmen Square befitted a man who’d had so many titles in life: the Great Teacher, the Great Leader, the Great Helmsman, the Great Supreme Commander, the Great Saviour, Beloved Leader, but most commonly, Chairman Mao.For fifty years, an oil painting of Mao Zedong had been mounted on the gate there. Successive versions subtly aged the Chairman and each altered something – taking away the cap, changing the jacket, realigning the gaze. The first was painted in 1949. A new portrait was commissioned in 1950, in 1952, in 1963, and for the last time in 1967. Sunlight and harsh weather took their toll on these paintings and at least once every year, the management office of Tiananmen Square was obliged to take the current version down and replace it with a freshly painted copy. Often the replacement was an overpainting on an old canvas, each of which was reused as many as five or six times. By 1989, the painter of the Tiananmen portrait, the third person to hold that post since 1949, had been turning out a painting every year for the past thirteen years. Just after two in the afternoon of Tuesday, May 23, 1989, in the sixth week of the pro-democracy protests in the square, that portrait maker’s schedule was disrupted.
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