Leaf In A Bitter Wind

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Leaf In A Bitter Wind
Author Ting-Xing Ye
Country Canada
Language English
Genre Autobiography, Cultural Revolution memoir, Communism in China
Publisher Bantam Books
Publication date
1 June 2000
Media type Print (Paperback, 1 volume)
Pages 486
ISBN 0-553-81306-4
OCLC 59456198

Leaf In A Bitter Wind is the personal memoir of author Ting-Xing Ye's life in China from her birth in Shanghai to eventual escape to Canada in 1987.


Ting-Xing Ye was the fourth daughter of a factory owner, and she and her siblings were branded as the children of capitalists and persecuted during the Cultural Revolution. By the age of thirteen, both Ye's parents had died. The Cultural Revolution then tore the remaining family members apart. Along with millions of other Chinese youths, Ye was "sent down" from the city for labor reform on a prison farm, where she was subjected to humiliating psychological torture. Later, Ye was accepted into Beijing University where she studied English before being assigned to the Foreign Ministry as a translator for the delegations of such dignitaries as Queen Elizabeth II, Ronald Reagan and Imelda Marcos. Ye left China for good in 1987, when she defected to Canada.

Domestic Abuse[edit]

In addition to describing her life in Communist China before and during the Cultural Revolution, Ye also writes about the domestic abuse she suffered during her first marriage. Ye and her first husband had one daughter, as permitted by the Chinese One Child Policy. Later, Ye was forced to abort a second pregnancy as it was not permitted by government policy. Ye describes how her husband repeatedly beat her in front of her daughter, and insisted that a close male friend share their cramped living quarters. Ye became increasingly estranged from her husband and spent significant periods of time apart from him during her postgraduate studies in Beijing. During her studies, Ye fell in love with her Canadian English teacher, William E. Bell, and eventually defected to the West to be with him, gaining permission to leave China under the guise of a fully paid scholarship to a Canadian university. However, to do so, she had to leave her daughter in the custody of her husband. When it became clear that Ye did not intend to return permanently to China, her husband denied her access to her daughter, changing her name and moving to a new, secret address to avoid the possibility of contact with Ye.

Ye ends her memoir with her descriptions of how, as a Canadian citizen, she continues to attempt to contact her daughter, hoping one day to take her to Canada.

Background and Genre[edit]

Leaf In A Bitter Wind is one of several memoirs of life during the Cultural Revolution written by Chinese citizens who managed to leave China for the West. Other examples of personal Cultural Revolution memoirs include:

  • Nien Cheng, "Life and Death in Shanghai" (Grove, May 1987). 547 pages ISBN 0-394-55548-1
  • Jung Chang, Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991). 524 p. LCCN 91-20696
  • Heng Liang Judith Shapiro, Son of the Revolution (New York: Knopf : Distributed by Random House, 1983).
  • Yuan Gao, with Judith Polumbaum, Born Red: A Chronicle of the Cultural Revolution (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1987).
  • Jiang Yang Chu translated and annotated by Djang Chu, Six Chapters of Life in a Cadre School: Memoirs from China's Cultural Revolution [Translation of Ganxiao Liu Ji] (Boulder: Westview Press, 1986).
  • Bo Ma, Blood Red Sunset: A Memoir of the Chinese Cultural Revolution (New York: Viking, 1995). Translated by Howard Goldblatt.
  • Guanlong Cao, The Attic: Memoir of a Chinese Landlord's Son (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996).
  • Ji-li Jiang, Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution (New York: HarperCollins, 1997).
  • Rae Yang, Spider Eaters : A Memoir (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997).
  • Weili Ye, Xiaodong Ma, Growing up in the People's Republic: Conversations between Two Daughters of China's Revolution (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005).
  • Lijia Zhang, "Socialism Is Great": A Worker's Memoir of the New China (New York: Atlas & Co, Distributed by Norton, 2007).
  • Emily Wu, Feather in the Storm (Pantheon, 2006). ISBN 978-0-375-42428-1.
  • Xinran Xue, The Good Women of China: Hidden Voices (Chatto & Windus, 2002). Translated by Esther Tyldesley. ISBN 0-7011-7345-9