Dienstag, 15.10.2019 21:00 Uhr

“UNDER RED SKIES” by Karoline Kan

Verantwortlicher Autor: Carlo Marino Rome, 21.05.2019, 15:26 Uhr
Presse-Ressort von: Dr. Carlo Marino Bericht 4989x gelesen

Rome [ENA] Karoline Kan was born in 1989 and is a former New York Times reporter who writes about millennial life and politics in China. Currently she’s an editor at China Dialogue and lives in Beijing. From a village peasant family to a New York Times reporter, Karoline Kan's life in China has been governed by the vertiginous rapid socio-economic changes of recent decades. It was through oral histories, rather than

through textbooks, that she developed a connection to her homeland. “UNDER RED SKIES” by Karoline Kan offers fascinating tales of her grandmother, who strived to make a way for her family during the Great Famine; of her mother, who defied the One-Child Policy by giving birth to Karoline; of her cousin, a shoe factory worker scraping by on 6 yuan (88 cents) per hour; and of herself, as an ambitious millennial striving to find a job and love during a time of disorienting social change. Today, according to the author, Chinese young people are frustrated about many things: the stagnating social mobility, which makes it more and more difficult to climb the success ladder as their parents’ generation could; the fact that older

values and customs, such as those concerning marriage and family, still reign; the rapidly increasing gap between rich and poor during a time when the country has become increasingly capitalistic, with advertisements displaying before people a glowing material world out of their financial reach. Those of them born in the 1980s and 1990s used to take it for granted that life would be better and better, that there would be more possibilities and more freedom, but now that they have grown up, they find it’s not always true: unlike the perception of China in the West, Chinese society is not growing more equal. There’s the perception that the economic miracle will probably break during their lifetime.

The parents’ generation could at least attempt to change their fate, for example, through education. But it’s less easy for the young because richer kids have the advantage now, of starting with a better education. The generation born after the Reform and Opening Up, which marked China’s opening to the West and economic reform is aware that many traditions have been fading away, replaced by new culture and information coming from outside. This has confused people and has partly caused the generation gap. The author’s grandparents’ generation experienced the war and many tremendous things, her parents’ generation grew up in Mao’s cultural revolution.

They all had grand missions directed by the State-Party, but the 1989 generation had little such guide and it’s as if they are fumbling for a path in the darkness. This is most in common with western millennials. Karoline Kan's new book Under Red Skies is not just a coming-of-age story. It also provides a unique insight into contemporary China, emphasizing the experiences of ordinary Chinese people and, in particular, ordinary Chinese women. Through the stories of three generations of women in her family, Karoline Kan reveals how they traversed their way in a country beset by poverty and often-violent political unrest.

As the Kans move from quiet villages to crowded towns and through the urban streets of Beijing in search of a better way of life, they are obliged to confront the past and break the chains of tradition, especially those forced on women. Under Red Skies is an beautiful observer account and Karoline's quest to understand shifting sands of China. It is the first English-language memoir from a Chinese millennial to be published in America, and a fascinating portrait of an otherwise-hidden world, written from the point of view of those who live there.

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