The Little Red Guard: A Family Memoir (Google eBook)

Front Cover
Penguin, Apr 26, 2012 - Biography & Autobiography - 272 pages
16 Reviews
A Washington Post Best of 2012 pick

Three generations of a family living under one roof reflect the dramatic transformations of an entire society in this memoir of life in 20th century China


When Wenguang Huang was nine years old, his grandmother became obsessed with her own death. Fearing cremation, she extracted from her family the promise to bury her after she died. This was in Xi’an, a city in central China, in the 1970s, when a national ban on all traditional Chinese practices, including burials, was strictly enforced. But Huang’s grandmother was persistent, and two years later, his father built her a coffin. He also appointed his older son, Wenguang, as coffin keeper, a distinction that meant, among other things, sleeping next to the coffin at night.

Over the next fifteen years, the whole family was consumed with planning Grandma’s burial, a regular source of friction and contention, with the constant risk of being caught by the authorities. Many years after her death, the family’s memories of her coffin still loom large. Huang, now living and working in America, has come to realize how much the concern over the coffin has affected his upbringing and shaped the lives of everyone in the family. Lyrical and poignant, funny and heartrending, The Little Red Guard is the powerful tale of an ordinary family finding their way through turbulence and transition.
  

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
3
4 stars
12
3 stars
1
2 stars
0
1 star
0

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Beamis12 - LibraryThing

Wen is a very likable and easy to relate to narrator. Living with a grandmother, who is from a time when they still bound woman's feet, he and is family try to navigate between the old customs and the ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - xuesheng - LibraryThing

In The Little Red Guard Wenguang Huang tells about his life growing up in China as the child of model Communists, except model Communists shouldn’t consider burial after death, at least not according ... Read full review

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2012)

Wenguang Huang, who grew up in northern China, is a Chicago-based writer and translator. His writing has appeared in The Paris Review, Harper’s, The Christian Science Monitor, the Chicago Tribune, and the Asia Literary Review. Heis the English translator of Liao Yiwu’s The Corpse Walker and God Is Red and Yang Xianhui’s Woman from Shanghai.

Bibliographic information