It is 1969 and China is in the throes of the Cultural Revolution. The Tao family is banished to the countryside, forced to leave comfortable lives in Nanjing to be reeducated in the true nature of the revolution by the peasants of Sanyu village.
The parents face exile with stoicism and teach their son to embrace reeducation wholeheartedly. Is this simple pragmatism, an attempt to protect the boy and ensure his future? Or do the banished cadres really cling to their belief in their leaders and the ideals of the Revolution? These questions remain tantalizingly unanswered in this prize-winning first novel.