By Aiping Mu
Aiping Mu was born to parents prominent in the Communist hierarchy - her father was Political Commissar for the Beijing region and her mother ran one of the city's universities - and in her early years lived the pampered life of the Party elite: luxury housing, guards, servants and private schooling. Both parents were considered intellectuals within the Party and from the start experienced the factional infighting and periodic purges which culminated decades later in the Cultural Revolution and the break-up of the family. Aiping herself was one of the first Red Guards before being denounced as a bourgeois intellectual and exiled to a remote province. In the guise of following one family's rising and falling fortunes VERMILION GATE tells the story of modern China itself, written from the perspective of one who grew up close to the seat of power in history. With rare insights into the life of the political elite and the mechanics of power and patronage in Beijing, the focus is also upon more domestic issues such as the family and the role of women in this unique and powerfully moving book.