City Gate, Open Up
A magical, impressionistic autobiography by Chinaâs legendary poet Bei Dao In 2001, to visit his sick father, the exiled poet Bei Dao returned to his homeland for the first time in over twenty years. The city of his birth was totally unrecognizable. âMy city that once was had vanished,â he writes: âI was a foreigner in my hometown.â The shock of this experience released a flood of memories and emotions that sparked Open Up, City Gate. In this lyrical autobiography of growing upâfrom the birth of the Peopleâs Republic, through the chaotic years of the Great Leap Forward, and on into the Cultural RevolutionâBei Dao uses his extraordinary gifts as a poet and storyteller to create another Beijing, a beautiful memory palace of endless alleyways and corridors, where personal narrative mixes with the momentous history he lived through. At the center of the book are his parents and siblings, and their everyday life together through famine and festival. Open Up, City Gate is told in an episodic, fluid style that moves back and forth through the poetâs childhood, recreating the smells and sounds, the laughter and the danger, of a boyâs coming of age during a time of enormous change and upheaval.