Winter white cabbage, vinyl records, pet rabbits, banned books, and first and last “I love yous” provide intimate glimpses that “open up” to reveal extraordinary, immediate testimony of challenges survived in a life intensely lived.

—Terry Hong, Booklist

A magical, impressionistic autobiography by China’s legendary poet Bei Dao

City Gate, Open Up

Nonfiction by Bei Dao

Translated from the Chinese by Jeffrey Yang

Your Independent Bookstore Barnes & Noble

Paperback (published April 25, 2017)

ISBN
9780811226431
Price US
18.95
Price CN
24.95
Trim Size
5 x 8
Page Count
240

Ebook (published April 25, 2017)

ISBN
9780811226448

Bei Dao

Contemporary Chinese poet, representative of the Misty Poets.

Winter white cabbage, vinyl records, pet rabbits, banned books, and first and last “I love yous” provide intimate glimpses that “open up” to reveal extraordinary, immediate testimony of challenges survived in a life intensely lived.

—Terry Hong, Booklist

In 18 essays, crafted with poetic precision and enriched by Jeffrey Yang’s assiduous translation, Bei Dao depicts a cast of memorable characters with humor and insight…

—Wenguang Huang, Wall Street Journal

City Gate, Open Up is an ocean of recollections. Bei Dao’s impressionistic account of his childhood and youth in Beijing, is unlike any book he has ever written.

—Ratik Asokan, Caravan Magazine

What a fine book! Funny, astute, touching, subtle, personal, widely human.

A nuanced account of China in the era of the Cultural Revolution, seen through one young man’s eyes. Since that young man became a poet, it is also beautifully textured, full of the sounds, sights, and scents of a Beijing that is no more.

Publisher’s Weekly

City Gate, Open Up holds a vertiginous, intimate kaleidoscope of vignettes and portraits, in which a changing city, family, community, and country are presented as quick life-drawings, sketched from within. The drama of famine becomes a few candies in the mouths of half-starved boys scouring fields for weeds; the Cultural Revolution, an attic-hidden library of pre-war movie magazines, anatomy, and fiction carried into a hutong courtyard’s fire for burning. Soon after, the author builds a traveling bookcase backpack, holding only the works of Mao. One local official’s suicide abuts his successor’s ferocious skill at ping pong; a son discovers, as inner cultural inheritance, his father’s “little tyrant,” then struggles for tenderness as time rearranges their relative power. From its haunting opening description of Beijing’s early light bulbs, their rarity and weakness, this book’s jump-cuts of memory move backward and forward in time. These pages illuminate, obliquely and acutely, the story of a now-famous dissident poet’s rebellious emergence and survival, within the story of the intelligentsia’s larger harrowing amid the Chinese Revolution’s whiplash unfoldings.

—Jane Hirshfield

The soul of post-Mao poetry, Bei Dao reveals in this intimate, lyrical memoir a China that still haunts us with its brutal past and aching humanity. Like Balzac’s Paris, Dickens’ London, and Pushkin’s St. Petersburg, Bei Dao’s Beijing is a microcosm caught in a time warp, forever titillating our imagination.

—Yunte Huang, Editor of The Big Red Book of Modern Chinese Literature