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21 January 2013

Kay Bratt: Train to Nowhere

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An ultimate writer's challenge - write a meaningful novella about the Cultural Revolution in 52 pages. Kay Bratt met this challenge superbly.

A Train to Nowhere describes how during the Cultural Revolution the Red Guards could travel and be fed on trains for free - some of the homeless ones spent weeks on trains, to the detriment of normal fare paying passengers. Ling is forced to join the feared Red Guards by her mother to ensure her protection when her family was about to be sent away. During a long ride to Beijing, Ling experiences loneliness, the inhumanity of the Red Guard and its allegiance to Chairman Mao. In the end she finds friendship in the most unexpected places.

Who would have thought that the China of the Cultural Revolution of the 1960's would, through the hard work and skills of its people, become, arguably (IMHO definitely) the most powerful economic and financial country in the world.

I have only read novels about the Cultural Revolution written by Chinese (notably the superb book Wild Swans). Kay Bratt is an American who lived with her family in China for 4 years around 2003. I have put all of her other books triggered by her life in China on my wish list.

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