Hot Best Seller

A Leaf in the Bitter Wind: A Memoir

Availability: Ready to download

Ting-xing Ye was born in Shanghai in 1952, just three years after the People's Republic of China was officially created. In her enthralling memoir, she weaves together her personal history with the larger history of Mao's China to create a tale both intimate and epic, colored by deep family bonds and the constant foreboding presence of a totalitarian government.Ye's father Ting-xing Ye was born in Shanghai in 1952, just three years after the People's Republic of China was officially created. In her enthralling memoir, she weaves together her personal history with the larger history of Mao's China to create a tale both intimate and epic, colored by deep family bonds and the constant foreboding presence of a totalitarian government.Ye's father, a successful factory owner, had his business taken away at the outset of the Cultural Revolution. His death in 1962, followed by his wife's two years later, left behind a family of five children, a beloved servant known as "Great-Aunt," and the potentially fatal tag of "capitalist." In telling her story, Ye gracefully combines idyllic memories of her childhood on Purple Sunshine Lane with harrowing tales of harassment by the feared Red Guards. As a teen, Ye was sentenced to a prison farm; the book traces her journey from prisoner to university student, her work as a police agent and a translator, and the love affair that led to her dramatic defection to the West. Already a bestseller in Australia, "A Leaf in the Bitter Wind "is a true story with all the characteristics of a great novel-danger, romance, smart social commentary, and a liberal dose of wry humor. Anyone seeking out an intimate view of Asian culture will find it in this "rare uncensored glimpse of life in China during one of the worst times in its history."-"Calgary Sun" "A gifted narrator with a photographic memory, Ye records, in riveting detail, the capricious existence of the Chinese during the Cultural Revolution."-"Bloomsbury Review" "Compelling . . . laced with irony and surprising twists of fate."-"Maclean's"


Compare

Ting-xing Ye was born in Shanghai in 1952, just three years after the People's Republic of China was officially created. In her enthralling memoir, she weaves together her personal history with the larger history of Mao's China to create a tale both intimate and epic, colored by deep family bonds and the constant foreboding presence of a totalitarian government.Ye's father Ting-xing Ye was born in Shanghai in 1952, just three years after the People's Republic of China was officially created. In her enthralling memoir, she weaves together her personal history with the larger history of Mao's China to create a tale both intimate and epic, colored by deep family bonds and the constant foreboding presence of a totalitarian government.Ye's father, a successful factory owner, had his business taken away at the outset of the Cultural Revolution. His death in 1962, followed by his wife's two years later, left behind a family of five children, a beloved servant known as "Great-Aunt," and the potentially fatal tag of "capitalist." In telling her story, Ye gracefully combines idyllic memories of her childhood on Purple Sunshine Lane with harrowing tales of harassment by the feared Red Guards. As a teen, Ye was sentenced to a prison farm; the book traces her journey from prisoner to university student, her work as a police agent and a translator, and the love affair that led to her dramatic defection to the West. Already a bestseller in Australia, "A Leaf in the Bitter Wind "is a true story with all the characteristics of a great novel-danger, romance, smart social commentary, and a liberal dose of wry humor. Anyone seeking out an intimate view of Asian culture will find it in this "rare uncensored glimpse of life in China during one of the worst times in its history."-"Calgary Sun" "A gifted narrator with a photographic memory, Ye records, in riveting detail, the capricious existence of the Chinese during the Cultural Revolution."-"Bloomsbury Review" "Compelling . . . laced with irony and surprising twists of fate."-"Maclean's"

30 review for A Leaf in the Bitter Wind: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sverre

    == The heart and spirit of an enduring optimism == A potential reader trying to assess the content of this memoir of almost four hundred pages by looking at its title, the portrait and back-cover summary would perhaps categorize it as a dreary tale of woe by an escapee from the chaotic social and political nightmare that comprised the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Yes, it is about that: a tale of horrendous suffering and deprivation, denial of justice and human compassion, a family torn apart by == The heart and spirit of an enduring optimism == A potential reader trying to assess the content of this memoir of almost four hundred pages by looking at its title, the portrait and back-cover summary would perhaps categorize it as a dreary tale of woe by an escapee from the chaotic social and political nightmare that comprised the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Yes, it is about that: a tale of horrendous suffering and deprivation, denial of justice and human compassion, a family torn apart by poverty and displacements enforced by the arbitrary decisions imposed by a dysfunctional autocracy. It is about how an ancient civilization ingrained with quaint superstitions and Confucian principles tries to adapt to new ways; but the rules are constantly changed in worshipful obedience to a dictatorial despot, Chairman Mao. But this is never a dreary tale. The author, whose familiar name is Ah Si, Number 4—designating her birth order—born in 1952, grows up in Shanghai not long after the Communist takeover in 1949. She loses her parents at a young age and becomes dependent on her unmarried aged Great-Aunt. She and her four siblings exist in poverty, trying to sustain themselves during famines, economic disruptions and social chaos. Because her father had been a factory owner she is labelled as belonging on the wrong side of the factional struggles. This is a shadow that hangs over her no matter how much she tries to overcome her hardships. She is sent away to work on a prison farm where conditions are inhumanely primitive and authority carries a big stick for anyone who fails to toe the line. But Ah Si is a survivor who against all odds eventually is placed in a position of influence as a translator and becomes a co-ordinator of receiving and entertaining foreign dignitaries. In the meantime she has married and become a mother. But curiously she has to accede to having a second male, who is infatuated with her husband, to be their constant companion. This is a well written book. It does not linger on setbacks and futility but moves on to take in the main events, the changes, the challenges, the twists of fate, the glimpses of hope that keep Ah Si struggling towards a better life. The book has the heart and spirit of an enduring optimism. The last third of the book provides absorbing reading towards what we know will be a well-deserved happy ending.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Louise

    Ting-Xing Ye's memoir is unbelievable, I couldn't put it down. The woman has led a life wrought with sadness and tragedies we can only read about in the lives of others. Ting-Xing is an amazingly strong woman, and a true survivor who deserves all the good the rest of her life can bring. From back cover: "Spanning 35 years, this enthralling memoir chronicles the life of a survivor who has been buffeted by the winds of history. Ting-Xing Ye was born in Shanghai, the fourth child of a factory owner w Ting-Xing Ye's memoir is unbelievable, I couldn't put it down. The woman has led a life wrought with sadness and tragedies we can only read about in the lives of others. Ting-Xing is an amazingly strong woman, and a true survivor who deserves all the good the rest of her life can bring. From back cover: "Spanning 35 years, this enthralling memoir chronicles the life of a survivor who has been buffeted by the winds of history. Ting-Xing Ye was born in Shanghai, the fourth child of a factory owner who had his factory taken from him. By the age of thirteen, her parents were dead. The Cultural Revolution then tore Ye's family apart. With grim irony, she offers a riveting account of her work on a prison farm, where, as the child of a "capitalist," she was subjected to humiliating psychological torture. Ye then wryly relates how she found herself accepted into Beijing University and assigned to the Foreign Ministry as a translator for the delegations of such dignitaries as Queen Elizabeth, Ronald Reagan and Imelda Marcos. In a moving and dramatic final section, Ye writes about her feudal-style marriage, her falling in love with a Canadian, and her eventual defection to Canada. Her former husband has refused her all access to her daughter. Now a Canadian citizen, Ye continues to attempt to contact her child, hoping to bring her to Canada where she too may be free. Born in Shanghai in 1952, Ting-Xing Ye was an English interpreter for the Chinese government before leaving China in 1987. The author of several books, Ye lives in Orillia, Ontario with author William Bell

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mary K

    Wow - what a story. Ye describes her experience growing up in communist China of the 50s and 60s and does so in such vivid detail that it almost feels as if I’ve never really understood communism. Her survival skills, spunk, luck, and wisdom got her through countless life-threatening situations. Well written. Amazing story.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    Well written memoir from the Cultural Revolution onwards. I read this at the same time as Jan Wong's "Red China Blues" and was interested to note the difference between the two books - one, Jan Wong's, about an idealistic Canadian choosing to come to China - and the other, this one, about a girl who had no choice but to suffer through the Cultural Revolution. The ending surprises me - especially when I realized who her husband was (having read his books as well). I don't think the narrative accur Well written memoir from the Cultural Revolution onwards. I read this at the same time as Jan Wong's "Red China Blues" and was interested to note the difference between the two books - one, Jan Wong's, about an idealistic Canadian choosing to come to China - and the other, this one, about a girl who had no choice but to suffer through the Cultural Revolution. The ending surprises me - especially when I realized who her husband was (having read his books as well). I don't think the narrative accurately details the agony through which her decision to leave her child was likely made - that process was completely toned down and sanitized.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Thank you so much for this important book! I enjoyed reading this book despite the many turmoils and tragic events Ting-xing Ye had to endure in her life. I didn’t know much about the cultural revolution before I read this book. I am grateful a strong woman like Ting-xing Ye has found the courage to write down her own journey to freedom and hopefully a peaceful life in Canada.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bailey Olfert

    There is much to learn about China during the cultural revolution in this memoir, and none of it good: a lot of difficult reality. [spoiler] Not having the author's experiences I cannot judge her, but the choice to leave her daughter is difficult for me as a reader to accept. There is much to learn about China during the cultural revolution in this memoir, and none of it good: a lot of difficult reality. [spoiler] Not having the author's experiences I cannot judge her, but the choice to leave her daughter is difficult for me as a reader to accept.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    I learned about Chinese culture, politics, and perspective from this book. It had a good plot at the same time. It is the memoir of a woman who lived through the Chinese cultural revolution.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Trina

    I was pleasantly surprised how much I liked this book. While most of it was generally boring, I still felt drawn in by the author's writing style. As a sign of any good book, it encouraged me to research and find out more about the events and culture covered. This woman has clearly life full of suppression and abuse that she was adequately able to retell. I'm sure sitting in person with her would give a much better understanding of her story than her book allowed me. I felt like a lot of the stor I was pleasantly surprised how much I liked this book. While most of it was generally boring, I still felt drawn in by the author's writing style. As a sign of any good book, it encouraged me to research and find out more about the events and culture covered. This woman has clearly life full of suppression and abuse that she was adequately able to retell. I'm sure sitting in person with her would give a much better understanding of her story than her book allowed me. I felt like a lot of the story was missing regarding her romance and why she chose to immigrate to Canada. I know the reasoning was there and I could see the author tried to convey the emotional decision, I just didn't hear it come through as clearly as I felt it could have been done. Possibly because the wrap up of the story was rushed? Having had rough family relationships myself was the only reason I could remotely understand the pain and struggle as she expressed how she no longer has contact with her daughter and how her ex husband reacted to her leaving him. As a mother, and someone who grew up in the United States with so many freedoms I take for granted, I felt like her decision to leave her child was made so easily, while I am certain it was not. I felt like I needed more explanation than "I fell in love with a man and was so controlled in my country," but I so loved her expression at the end of the the book, that she wants her daughter to be free, too.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    An extraordinarily wonderful book. I had the benefit of finding this in an op shop before I knew of its fame. Owning the copy I also did not have the pressure of a library book having to be returned by a set date thus causing me to read a little more quickly than I would like. The writing style is very easy reading and the detail very good both on a factual and personal level. Often I find 'best sellers' overrated and not to my liking - not so with this one. An extraordinarily wonderful book. I had the benefit of finding this in an op shop before I knew of its fame. Owning the copy I also did not have the pressure of a library book having to be returned by a set date thus causing me to read a little more quickly than I would like. The writing style is very easy reading and the detail very good both on a factual and personal level. Often I find 'best sellers' overrated and not to my liking - not so with this one.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Gail GB

    This book really is somewhere between a 4-5, closer to a 4.6. It is exceptionally well written and the reader must realize how well written it is when you think the author’s first language is not English. I knew very little about China and living under the conditions Ye described in the book. Ye showed strength, perseverance, and tenacity when surviving so many hardships. An exceptional book and I can’t wait to pick up another by this author

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lee

    A great memoir of a shanghai girl who lived through the cultural revolution. Her struggle to survive through the death of her parents and life on a prison farm were she was subjected to torture and deprivation. Her eventual release from there by gaining acceptance into university and becoming a translator in the foreign ministry. A moving tale mostly, sometimes a little boring but full of hope.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mishelle

    A memoir of the hardships the author endured living in China throughout Mao's cultural revolution. A heartbreaking and touching life told compellingly, I really enjoyed this book. A memoir of the hardships the author endured living in China throughout Mao's cultural revolution. A heartbreaking and touching life told compellingly, I really enjoyed this book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jennie Stanhope

    A very moving book that gave me an insight to my privileged position and all the rights and freedoms I take for granted. One persons view but I found it very enlightening and enjoyable

  14. 5 out of 5

    Erik Ryberg

    A good memoir to couple with reading of Chinese history from the Great Leap Forward to Deng Xiaoping to get a closer perspective to those events.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Bettina Schempf

    Gripping, emotional - a harrowing insight into life during the Cultural Revolution in China.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Renae

    Couldn’t put this book down. The author’s story is absolutely harrowing and inspiring all in one. LOVED it!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sandra Ellis

    I could not put it down. I didn’t know much about the Cultural Revolution In China and this was a very interesting first hand account. I learned a lot through Ms. Ye’s story.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Caleb

    The Communist Revolution in China starting in 1949 and for many years to follow was a chaotic and tumultuous time for many people. It was an upheaval of culture, economics, religion and thought and an incredible change in the lives of hundreds of millions of people. Many of us did not live through this, and we will never know how it truly was to experience, but for a brief moment we can enter that world by looking through the eyes of Ye Ting Xing in her incredible and enlightening memoir, A Leaf The Communist Revolution in China starting in 1949 and for many years to follow was a chaotic and tumultuous time for many people. It was an upheaval of culture, economics, religion and thought and an incredible change in the lives of hundreds of millions of people. Many of us did not live through this, and we will never know how it truly was to experience, but for a brief moment we can enter that world by looking through the eyes of Ye Ting Xing in her incredible and enlightening memoir, A Leaf in the Bitter Wind. Never before have I felt so engaged with a character, to the point of reliving the moments myself and feeling her pain and happiness. It was a moving experience to say the least and one that everyone should experience, especially those interested in Chinese history and culture. The book follows the life of Ye Ting Xing, a Chinese girl born to a family of 5 at the height of the Cultural Revolution in China, orchestrated by the supreme leader Mao Ze Dong. We are thrust into story, much as Ye is thrust into life, rather unceremoniously and with the real troubles only beginning to ramp up. The journey she takes us through in her life is mesmerizing and left me wanting more every time I put the book down. As she takes us through the relative calm of her youth, and the chaos that follows in her teenage and young adult years, it is easy to sense that this book came from a real trauma that yearned to be expressed. We also get a good look at political and social reforms and practices that were taking place, but always from a first-hand perspective instead of watered down or written in an encyclopedic fashion. There are stories and anecdotes that you’ll never hear about if you don’t read this story. If there is one word that could be used to summarize Ye’s experience during the rule of Mao, it would be confusion. Confusion about what is happening. Confusion about why things are happening. Confusion about what will happen next. I felt a great deal of sympathy for her and her family as they struggled through the insanity unfolding in front of them. Before reading this book, I never fully realized the ambiguity and arbitrariness of decisions made by the government. When looking at things in a historical context, we see things very linearly and logically, but seeing them first-hand makes you realize how little the establishment really knew what it was doing and how confusing it would be for someone living in that time and place. The language of the book is so vivid and carnal. Ye spares no detail. She wants us to know everything, from her love life to her menstruation, from her fears to her triumphs. It is refreshing to have an author not afraid to give everything she has and leave nothing to the imagination. I always felt I was getting the real story, the real account, at least from Ye’s perspective. A bit unrelated, but I was happy to have the pictures in the middle of the book as well. It gave a wonderful context for imagining her and her family, and a mental image to attach to the words. The book is not perfectly written by any means. My biggest concern is Ye’s presumptions about the reader. She often writes as if we are expected to know about certain Chinese leaders or terminology that can’t be properly translated into English. At times, I was left scratching my head and wondering where she had explained something in the book, as it felt like I was supposed to know about it already. Sometimes a term would be explained, and then one hundred pages later, the term would be reintroduced again without an explanation, but by then my memory had already faded on that specific subject. There was also much more that I wanted to know. If anything, I suppose that is a credit to the engrossing nature of the book. However, I wanted to see at least a bit of her life after leaving and her transition to Canadian life. I realize the book was about her time in China specifically, but it would be nice to see what it is like to move from one world to another. When it finally came time for me to put this book back on the shelf in the library, I felt like I was losing something. I didn’t want to say goodbye to Ye TIng Xing. We had become friends over the course of the few weeks it took me to read the book. She was a part of my life and I felt as though somehow I had been allowed to be a part of hers, thanks to her grace in allowing me the look into her personal life. It was a pleasure to be able to experience this story alongside her and I am happy I took the chance and picked up this book in the first place.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    I love biographies and autobiographies about women's lives. This one was harder to relate to because I couldn't remember the unfamiliar names, but still fascinating to have such an intimate glimpse of China. I love biographies and autobiographies about women's lives. This one was harder to relate to because I couldn't remember the unfamiliar names, but still fascinating to have such an intimate glimpse of China.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Marcy

    A leaf in the Bitter Wind is a memoir worth reading. It depicts the life of a young child who grows up during the Cultural Revolution. Ting-Xing Ye faced all of the hardships of a child born to a "capitalist" father. She is treated like dirt in her elementary school; When Xing Ye is sent to a prison farm as a young girl, she is terrorized and psychologically tortured by the superiors. Her crime throughout her young life is that is was born to a "capitalist." As the Cultural Revolution nears its A leaf in the Bitter Wind is a memoir worth reading. It depicts the life of a young child who grows up during the Cultural Revolution. Ting-Xing Ye faced all of the hardships of a child born to a "capitalist" father. She is treated like dirt in her elementary school; When Xing Ye is sent to a prison farm as a young girl, she is terrorized and psychologically tortured by the superiors. Her crime throughout her young life is that is was born to a "capitalist." As the Cultural Revolution nears its end, Xing Ye is accepted as a student at Beijing University. She becomes an English translator, a job that will change her life. She marries and has a little girl. Most of her money is given to her husband, and of course, the bank account is in his name only. It does not take long for Xing Ye's love for her husband to quickly ebb. (There are hints that her husband is gay with an old time friend who has become very much a part of their household from the moment Xing Ye and her husband were married, much to the dismay of Ying Ye). Ying Ye's life is filled with unhappiness in her marriage and is tired of her superiors at work who constantly look over her shoulder and criticize her for being kind to "foreigners." (Ironically, this IS her job). Xing Ye changes her life for the better, but the ending is bittersweet. The last 100 pages was the most riveting part for me. The first part of the book I found not as powerful. While I recommend this book, it in no way compares to Wild Swans or the Red Scarf Girl. I did, however, feel for Xing Ye during this horrible time of China's history.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    A Chinese Cinderella story except the protagonist in the book is not as adorable. Towards the end of the book, the story starts looking like one of the Chinese communism guerrilla war movies I watched when I was a kid. They won the war, and entered the utopia, except the movies didn't have such scenes as long and hard kisses ( I wonder if they flossed their teeth before doing so). The abrupt ending of the biography can't help leaving one wonder how this fairytale would end! How will Leaf repay ' A Chinese Cinderella story except the protagonist in the book is not as adorable. Towards the end of the book, the story starts looking like one of the Chinese communism guerrilla war movies I watched when I was a kid. They won the war, and entered the utopia, except the movies didn't have such scenes as long and hard kisses ( I wonder if they flossed their teeth before doing so). The abrupt ending of the biography can't help leaving one wonder how this fairytale would end! How will Leaf repay 'Uncle' Bill for all the trouble he went through to get her out of China? She didn't seem to have any opportunity to master some cooking skills since she was either too busy working in the fields or with foreign delegates.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea

    This book is a memoir of the author's experiences during China's cultural revolution. Unfortunately, the writing doesn't go very much further beyond "this is what happened to me and it was really hard." Once I'd read the ending, I felt like the purpose of her book was to say, "My life was really hard, and that's why I decided to move in with my Canadian English teacher." Kind of a weird moral to the story. This book is a memoir of the author's experiences during China's cultural revolution. Unfortunately, the writing doesn't go very much further beyond "this is what happened to me and it was really hard." Once I'd read the ending, I felt like the purpose of her book was to say, "My life was really hard, and that's why I decided to move in with my Canadian English teacher." Kind of a weird moral to the story.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Michele

    Reality stories are so much better than reality TV. This is a facinating memoir by a young woman who came of age during the Cultural Revolution in China. Her family history, inauspicious birth and cultural pressures make for a challenging life that includes time on a prison farm. Her intelligence and strong will enables her to maintain her sense of self and overcome these obstacles. This book provides an an interesting personal commentary on life in Communist China from the 60s through the 80s.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kms

    Ye Ting-Xing published two version but similar personal memoir of her early life in China. Although some info is incorrect, such as Hai Rui Removed From Office is by Wu Han not Hu Han. Some experiences is kind of fictional to me, such as caricatures of John F Kennedy. In 1960s, where and when did she see the caricature of JFK with Xs in China? I still like her memoir. I am curious about the answer to the questions in the EPILOGUE. Waiting for her third memoir about her life in Canada.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Peggy

    I picked this one up at a thrift store and it was a great purchase for 25 cents! It is the autobiography of a woman who grew up in Maoist China, and gives a first hand look at what it was like when even the smallest misstep was made. The punishment was harsh on both the individual and their entire family. Excellent read.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Berger

    I did find her story of life during Mao's oppressive Cultural Revolution fascinating, but the personal side of her story left me wondering about some of her life choices. As a parent, I couldn't fathom making the same decisions. Also, it's strange not to have more details on her life in Canada included in the book. Often, I found myself yearning to hear other people's versions of events. I did find her story of life during Mao's oppressive Cultural Revolution fascinating, but the personal side of her story left me wondering about some of her life choices. As a parent, I couldn't fathom making the same decisions. Also, it's strange not to have more details on her life in Canada included in the book. Often, I found myself yearning to hear other people's versions of events.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Pamela

    A fascinating and heartbreaking memoir of a girl growing up in China during the Cultural Revolution. Her drive to educate herself despite spending years of her youth at a prison farm is nothing less than miraculous.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Banafsheh Esmailzadeh

    My, my, where to even begin... I really felt for Ting-xing Ye all through reading this book. Her story will depress you but also inspire you, as you can see how strong it has made her. Highly recommended.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Colleen

    Such an interesting read. I learned a lot about communist china during this time period. The author doesn't overwhelm with details but gives the reader a clear understanding of the political climate at the time. The author had a rough life of hard work, turmoil and strife. I liked it. Such an interesting read. I learned a lot about communist china during this time period. The author doesn't overwhelm with details but gives the reader a clear understanding of the political climate at the time. The author had a rough life of hard work, turmoil and strife. I liked it.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Imani

    I read this in high school. It was so interesting, having an inside view of the Cultural Revolution in China. The story was compelling. A good reason I liked memoirs was probably because of this. I couldn't put it down. I read this in high school. It was so interesting, having an inside view of the Cultural Revolution in China. The story was compelling. A good reason I liked memoirs was probably because of this. I couldn't put it down.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.