Liang Heng

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Liang Heng (simplified Chinese: 梁恒; traditional Chinese: 梁恆; pinyin: Liáng Héng) (born 1954) is a Chinese writer and scholar.

Liang Heng was born in Changsha, Hunan Province. He led a difficult life as a child, dealing with hardships of the Cultural Revolution, Party Bureaucracy, and poverty. In 1983, Son of the Revolution, his account of his experiences growing up in communist China during the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution, written with his wife Judith Shapiro, was published.[1]

He was the sole son born to a reporter and a police bureaucrat. At first he and his two elder sisters are assured a place in China's communist system - their parents are well placed, and all are fervent believers in Mao Zedong, also known as Mao Tse-Tung. The Liangs' fortunes turn during the Hundred Flowers Campaign. At the outset of the campaign, loyal communists were encouraged to find faults in the existing regime, an effort to purify communism. Unfortunately for those involved, the campaign is quickly replaced with an "anti-rightist" campaign leading in an opposite direction of the Hundred Flowers. This new campaign targeted as enemies all who criticized the party in compliance the Hundred Flowers - a group that included Liang Heng's mother, who is banished from her lofty position and sent to a re-education camp. Liang Heng's father reluctantly separated from his now disgraced wife in order to spare his family the "black mark" of having a "rightist" mother. The effort proves wasted, as the family bears the brunt of the nation's growing revolutionary fervor. Liang Heng's father is labeled a counter-revolutionary intellectual, and he himself a "stinking intellectual's son".

Despite the family's hope to stay together, the Cultural Revolution will see them banished to distant corners of China. Heng stayed with his father, who remained a stalwart believer in Mao, even as they (and many like them) were forced to leave their privileged lives as city dwellers to become country peasants. Eventually, the fervor of the cultural revolution leads to outright warfare fought by competing cadres using weapons they didn't understand.

Eventually, the fighting came to an end, leaving the Chinese in an uneasy peace. Rather than revolutionary zeal, an older Liang Heng found a new danger in China's bribery economy. He became a factory worker and then a star basketball player. When China signalled that it would reopen schools, Liang Heng jumped at the chance for a university education.

During his studies at the Hunan Teachers' College in Changsha he met Judith Shapiro, an American teacher. In 1980, they married. Liang Heng emigrated with his wife to the United States in the early 1980s.

Liang Heng was portrayed by Robin Shou in the 1990 TV drama film Forbidden Nights.

He and his wife Judith Shapiro also co-authored After the Nightmare (Knopf, 1987) and Cold Winds, Warm Winds (Wesleyan University Press 1987).

In 1991 the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Liang and Shapiro had divorced. [2]

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