Egg on Mao: The Story of an Ordinary Man Who Defaced an Icon and Unmasked a Dictatorship Hardcover – Deckle Edge, Sep 29 2009
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Praise for Egg on Mao:
"Chong is a masterful storyteller. . . .Egg on Mao is a lovely and fascinating look at not only China, but also the power of friendship and human decency." —Quill and Quire
"Egg on Mao speaks the universal language of human rights." —The Daily News
Praise for The Concubine's Children:
"Beautiful, haunting and wise, [The Concubine' s Children] lingers in the mind like a portrait one returns to in a family album, and elicits the same mysterious response of love, melancholy and pride."
— The New York Times Book Review
About the Author
Denise Chong is the author of the family memoir The Concubine’s Children and The Girl in the Picture, a story of the napalm girl from the Vietnam War. She lives with her family in Ottawa.See all Product Description
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Lu Decheng was born in 1961, and grew up under the strict regime that went unchallenged even after Mao died in 1976. He was a rebellious teen, and resented indoctrination. He became a bus mechanic, but was to face incomprehensible suffering from what he thought were arbitrary or foolish regulations. When he and friends heard of the Tiananmen protests, they traveled there, planning their own version: thirty eggs filled with paint, which they flung across the huge portrait of Chairman Mao that looked over everyone in Tiananmen Square. It was an independent action; they felt that targeting this particular icon would call special attention to the despotic rule of Mao and his successors. Their hope was that the symbolism of the defacement of the portrait would be taken up by the students. They were shocked that just the opposite occurred. The act was so provocative, that the student leaders were scared that Lu Decheng and his two companions might be agents for the other side, there to give an excuse for a crackdown. They were denounced as vandals and turned over to the Public Security Bureau. Lu Decheng was tried and sentenced to sixteen years in atrocious prisons that were supposed to reform his thinking, but he resisted. A practical man, he tried to find ways that even in the prison environment he might make himself a better person, and he did all he could to learn Mandarin, to read and write it, and to enjoy what books were available. He never recanted, and would not hear of the charges against him being reduced to simple vandalism. When a warden, probing to find how right-minded he was becoming, asked him what he thought of the 1991 upheavals in Russia, Lu Decheng said, "It shows the total bankruptcy of Communism." The warden was apoplectic, and there were meetings to denounce Lu Decheng in the prison while he was on stage in front of everyone else, but he kept silent and would not recant. There was a flow of political prisoners gradually released after the 1997 death of Deng Xiaoping, and then to curry favor for the 2000 Olympics, and Lu Decheng was freed in January 1998. He was able to sneak out of China eight years later, and now lives in Canada.
This is a timely and important political story, but Chong has told it by concentrating on the humanity and bravery of her lead character and contrasting it with other individuals, like his father, who had been ground down by authoritarianism. Chong has not stuck to chronology; the narrative zips from Lu Decheng's upbringing, to Tiananmen, to the prison, and back; the lurches can be confusing, but the payoff is that the climactic event of Lu Decheng's life, the defacement of Mao's portrait, is the book's climax on the final pages, with all strands leading up to it. It was a simple, quixotic gesture, but it was deeply resented by the Chinese government. It changed little, but that little matters; this is an inspiring story of real heroism. That the powers in China so feared Lu Decheng's action, and his inability to reform, means that this round was won by the people; there will be other rounds to come.