Though born and raised in Hunan like Mao Zedong, Lu Decheng (1963- ) grew to despise the veneration of the late Communist leader. As a child and young man, under the influence of his free-thinking grandmother, he blamed Mao and the Communist Party for the death of his mother, the hardships of his life, and the distrust of people in his community. His father, employers, teachers, and neighbors chided him for his displays of disrespect, warning him of dire consequences. Their efforts only angered him more. When Chinese students demanding democracy gathered on Tiananmen Square in 1989, he had to be there. Biographer Denise Chong examines how defiant courage develops in a frightened community in Egg on Mao: The Story of an Ordinary Man Who Defaced an Icon and Unmasked a Dictatorship.
I like that in Egg on Mao, we have a biography of a person who is not really famous in our culture. Even in China, Lu Decheng is mostly known by a few optimists still dreaming of democracy, as the Chinese government tries to maintain a silence over the events of 1989. Through chapters alternating time before and after the incident in which Lu and two friends pelted the large portrait of Mao on Tiananmen Square with paint filled eggs, Chong recounts the life of a poor, under-educated bus mechanic in love with a young woman and wanting to give his daughter a better life.
With this new book, Canadian author Chong further establishes her interest in the recent history of East Asia. Her previous books are The Concubine's Children, a family memoir set in China and British Columbia, and The Girl in the Picture, the story of the Vietnamese woman who as a child was seen worldwide naked and burned by napalm. In all of these books, Chong takes Western readers inside Oriental societies to see the results of tradition and oppression. With the forecast that China will be the dominant power in the twenty-first century, Egg on Mao belongs in libraries everywhere.
Chong, Denise. Egg on Mao: The Story of an Ordinary Man Who Defaced an Icon and Unmasked a Dictatorship. 2009. Counterpoint. 249p. ISBN 9781582435473.