Lake with No Name: A True Story of Love and Conflict in Modern China by Diane Wei Liang - review by Jonathan Mirsky

Jonathan Mirsky

Tale From Tiananmen

Lake with No Name: A True Story of Love and Conflict in Modern China


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Lake with No Name centres on what happened in the spring of 1989 in Tiananmen Square and at Beijing University. I saw much of what Liang describes, and can vouch for the accuracy of her rendering of Tiananmen, which is drawn both from first-hand observation and fiom published accounts. Furthermore, she also makes no attempt to portray herself as a hero or even a significant participant in what the Chinese Communists still call 'the events', or 'the incident'. This is the fascinating and important story of a well-educated young woman who is not afiaid to show herself helpless, pathetic and in pursuit of love more than anything else, even as some of the most titanic events witnessed in twentieth-centurv China are crashing about her.

Liang was born into that vulnerable Chinese group labelled 'intellectuals': virtually anyone, that is, who ddn't work with their hands. They lived lives of shabby gentility in Beijing, like all non-official, uncorrupt people of their sort, enjoying small pleasures within their fadies. Like almost all intellectuals, the Liangs were 'sent down': exiled to the remote countryside-for years during the Cultural Revolution - which began in 1966, the year Liang was born. All her friends had this experience and occasionally, years later, someone would say something

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