Many of you probably do not know that I wrote a book with a long-time friend of mine, the account of his years growing up in China. It begins before the Communist Revolution and continues into the terrible upheaval that was known euphemistically as the “Great Cultural Revolution.” He related it to me in many conversations, and I made a book of it.
If you are like me, you probably have little interest in politics but a lot of interest in human rights and freedom of thought and of speech. What would you do if your rights were ripped away? What if you could not speak freely, if you had to watch every word uttered to another person, and found you had to be wary of what you said even to many who were supposed to be friends? What if such a simple act as complaining about the heat of the sun on your neck while working was taken by those in authority as treasonous, and you were punished accordingly? What if your house was invaded, your belongings stolen, all with government approval, and you were forcibly shipped far into a remote, strange and barren countryside?
I found that my friend had personally experienced the living hell that China became in those days. He learned firsthand what it is like to exist under a totalitarian regime that permits no dissension, punishes at will, and practices the most blatant forms of mind control.
Nonetheless, in spite of the darkness of those years, in spite of the suffering and betrayal, on his long odyssey through China he encountered rare people now and then, individuals like sparks of light in the shadows, people who helped him to endure.
I hope that those of you who have devices on which to read digital books will read this account. Because I want as many to read it as possible, I made it available at a deliberately very low cost through such places as Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, Ebookit.com, etc. I think it will be quite different than anything you have previously encountered.
The book is called A Time of Ghosts. You will find it listed under both my friend’s name (Hok-Pang Tang) and mine (David Coomler) If you read it, you will know why I consider it to be a very significant and important story of one man adrift amid a sea of sorrows in Communist China, one story that has survived out of countless personal stories of that period that have not.
It took a long, long time and a great deal of work to write this book. I devoted so much time and labor to it because I felt the story of Hok-Pang Tang’s life to be not only of historical significance but also a remarkable and enthralling tale of human endurance, a story that should not be lost.
I hope you will read it. And after you read it, I would very much like to know your reaction. If you check the entry on Amazon.com, you will see that it has received excellent reader reviews.
November 23, 2014 at 10:39 pm
Hi David — I bought this book last year when you first announced it and I’m glad to see you reminding us about it again.
This is a stunning piece of work. I even cried in some places, imagining the sense of entrapment Hok-Pang felt in a surreal world where all values are turned inside out.
I am so grateful that you wrote down Hok-Pang’s life story for the world to read. I think it deserves the widest possible audience; perhaps there are other on-line magazines or blog that would be interested in reviewing it. His story should not be ignored, not just because of the light it sheds on a crucial period of history that was long shrouded from Western eyes, but also because of the human dimension of tragedy, endurance, despair, and heroic hope.
Thank you, David, for your generosity in laboring to put together “A Time of Ghosts” and making it available to all of us. I know you put enormous time and energy into preserving Hok-Pang’s story; please be assured that it was not in vain, either for his memory or our enlightenment.
P.S. Readers with ordinary computers or laptops can download the digital book as well; all the major book vendors now provide free software to do so, meaning those without Kindles or Nooks or iPads etc. can access it just as easily.