Mr. China's Son to discuss China

During a visit to Bates College, acclaimed Chinese author He Liyi will read from his autobiographical works at 4:10 p.m. Tuesday, March 14, in Hirasawa Lounge of Chase Hall and show a slide presentation of his native Yunnan province at 4:10 p.m. Thursday, March 16, in the Keck Classroom, G52, of Pettengill Hall. The public is invited to attend both of these events free of charge.

He Liyi belongs to one of China’s minorities, the Bai, and lives in a remote area of Yunnan Province. Written in English, He’s biography Mr. China’s Son: A Villager’s Life (Westview Press, 1993) recounts nearly all of the events of China’s recent history, including his own six-year experience in the “reeducation-through-labor” camps.

The volume poignantly reveals the travails of the common person and village life under China’s Communist government, ironically referred to by He as “Mr. China.” According to China scholar and author Richard Madden, “this book is a gently insistent, haunting testimony to the human capacity for resilience and creativity in the face of the chaos and oppression of 20-century China.” Mr. He’s previous book, “The Spring of Butterflies” (William Collins and Sons/Lothrop, Lee and Shepard, 1985), is an English translation of Chinese folktales.

Mr. He was invited to Bates College by Maggie Maurer-Fazio, assistant professor of economics, who travels frequently to China with Bates students and has visited with He in his village.

“Mr. He has lived his entire life far from the workings of power in Beijing. Only twice in his life has he ventured from his native province. Yet he has experienced some of the most monumental political and economic changes that have swept any country in this century,” Maurer-Fazio says.

“Despite his university education, Mr. He was forced to live most of his life as a villager, dependent on the village structure for survival. ‘Mr. China’s Son’ reveals the impact of national policy on ‘ordinary’ people. It is the most readable and authentic account of life in rural China available in English.”

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