Things That Must Not Be Forgotten
A Childhood in Wartime ChinaBook - 2000
Winner of the 2002 Canada-Japan Literary Award To grow up in Beijing in the 1930s was to become engulfed in the colossal struggle between ideologies, and between nations, that shaped modern China. Born into privilege, separated from the filthy chaos of the city by servants and limousines and the stone walls of the Legation Quarter, Michael David Kwan felt his pampered life disintegrate as the Japanese overran China in 1938 and the world moved closer to war. Gradually, inexorably, the family was drawn into the maelstrom. Kwan's father, a wealthy railway administrator, became active in the resistance against the Japanese. Chiang Kai-Shek's nationalists and Mao Tse Tung's emerging communists were united against the invaders, but Kwan's father knew it wouldn't always be so. He had to protect his interests, his family, and his future any way he could. In Beijing, the Kwan household became a gathering place for high-level resistance members. At their summer villa in Baidahe, the family surreptitiously aided the guerrillas in the nearby mountains. In Qingdao, the Kwans lived next door to a Japanese admiral and his wife. From his treehouse overlooking their garden, little David innocently befriended the Japanese couple while his father, now Commissioner of Finance in the pro-Japanese government, secretly worked for the resistance, even sheltering a wounded U.S. airman. Disclosure would have meant summary execution for the entire household. After the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and Japan's surrender, the family's problems were exacerbated. David's father, now imprisoned, had to prove he was not a collaborator but rather a leader of the resistance. China moved toward chaos as the nationalists and the communists vied for power. David, at age 12, was sent to relatives in Shanghai before being spirited out of the country, not knowing if he'd ever see his family again. Things That Must Not Be Forgotten balances the sweet epiphanies of childhood against the grim machinations of war, self-preservation against brutal authority, love of family against love of country. It is a book that will resonate in readers' minds long after they have turned the final, wrenching page.
Publisher: Toronto : Macfarlane Walter & Ross, c2000
Branch Call Number: 951/.042/092/Kwan 359401 1
Characteristics: x, 244 p