by Sukey HowardJune, 2000
Barefoot boy with brain
Da Chen was born in 1962 in a small village in rural China, just in time to grow up under the oppressive tyranny of the cultural revolution. His family had been landlords, so along with the grinding poverty they were forced to live in, was the indignity of sanctioned humiliation. Da, the youngest son, somehow transcended the hardships heaped on them and Colors of the Mountain is his affecting, open-hearted coming-of-age memoir, read here by Daxing Zhang. Smart, talented, gutsy, with a loving, supportive family, Da also smoked, drank, gambled with a gang of shady neighborhood louts, and got into even more trouble than his heritage had bestowed on him. For a while, he succumbed to the anti-intellectual atmosphere; then Mao died, and a university education became the highest goal, the ticket out of the rice paddies. Da hit the books, hit the big time, and the rest is history.