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An artfully-wrought memoir of an orphan boy who became a world-famous acrobat under the thumb of China's Communist regime.
In 1949, when much of China's population was starving under the reign of Communist leader Mao Zedong, two-year-old Jingjing Xue was dropped off at a Shanghai orphanage. At nine years old, following the Communist Revolution when acrobats were pushed to the lowest stratum of society, the Shanghai Acrobatic Troupe had to turn to orphanages to secure new members. Jingjing, chosen for his small stature, was told what he would become.
This extraordinary autobiography tells the moving story of Jingjing's rise from poverty to become an admired performer in China and beyond--at times touring both communist and capitalist nations, representing China in the Shanghai Circus, and rubbing shoulders with key political leaders, and at other times enduring countless threats and privation at the hands of the anti-intellectual and anti-artistic Maoist regime, including interrogation, forced labor, and detainment.
With a deft hand and a disciplined eye, Xue examines the personal and philosophical consequences of the Cultural Revolution and the despair of performing under the weight of ideology, weaving together historical fact, cultural relics, song lyrics, old Chinese proverbs, and photographs to paint a full portrait of the Maoist regime and the tumultuous latter half of the twentieth century. He also recounts the mystifying experience of emigrating to a new nation and building a new life through grit and determination. Xue's story is striking, but it is also a universal meditation on journey and migration, toil, and yearning. When freedom, expression, and passion come at a profound cost, how much will you sacrifice to pursue your dreams?
About the Author
Jingjing Xue grew up in China and graduated from the Acrobatic School of Shanghai in 1961. From 1961 to 1987, he was a star performer with the Shanghai Acrobatic Troupe and was considered one of China's best acrobats and one of the world's top performers in the art of the handstand. Jingjing also performed around the world with the Shanghai Circus, including for the likes of President Richard Nixon, President Jimmy Carter, and the king of Cambodia. In 1979 he began teaching performers in the troupe his advanced skills; teaching one student to win the championship of the 10th World Tomorrow Acrobatic Competition in Paris for his Juggling with Benches show and another to win Gold at the English Voyage Cup and Gold at the Stunt Programmes Competition in London. In the 1980s Jingjing became the instructor and coach of the troupe and was responsible for designing training programs at the school. He conducted valuable research into acrobatic training theories, publishing "How to Train Young Acrobats,&rdquo "Training of Handstand," and "Reform in Acrobatic Training," which contributed to improvements in acrobatic training programs in China. In the 1990s Jingjing left China for Australia. He worked at the National Institute of Circus Arts in Melbourne, Australia, from its inception in 1999 through 2017. He lives in Melbourne.Bo Ai has worked as a translator and interpreter since 1997, and has translated multiple books from Chinese to English and English to Chinese. His diverse collection of translations includes Collection of Critical Biographies of Chinese Thinkers, Digital Gold: Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvent Money, The Frackers: The Outrageous Inside Story of the New Billionaire Wildcatters, The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We've Lost in a World of Constant Digital Connection, Understanding China, The Era of China's Turning Point, Deng Xiaoping, 1975-1982, and much more. He lives in Melbourne, Australia.