Cover image for The early arrival of dreams : a year in China
The early arrival of dreams : a year in China
Mahoney, Rosemary.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Fawcett Columbine, [1990]

Physical Description:
325 pages ; 22 cm
Format :

On Order



One year before the protests in Tiananmen Square, Rosemary Mahoney participated in a teaching exchange between Harvard and Hangzhou University. At Hangzhou she was able to overcome her students usual rigidity and achieve a rare and intimate glimpse of their culture and their attitudes. This remarkable memoir captures both the dreams and the grim realities her Chinese students faced within the confines of an oppressive political regime. Book jacket.

Author Notes

Rosemary Mahoney is the author of the National Book Critics Circle Award finalist Whoredom in Kimmage, a Likely Story, and most recently the Singular Pilgrim. A recipient of a Whiting Writers' Award, she lives in Providence, Rhode Island

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

A deft and bittersweet memoir of a year spent teaching English at Hangzhou University as part of a teacher exchange program at Radcliffe. The students at Hangzhou live in shabby quarters as cramped and isolated as life on a ship going nowhere. Mahoney bridges the many cultural gaps between herself, her colleagues, and students and soon discerns their shame, anger, and depression over China's many social and economic failings. Mahoney is confident and dynamic, both an engaging, warm teacher and an open-minded, adventurous student full of curiosity about the Chinese psyche. She describes the sexuality of the Chinese and their physically demanding life-style, which is summed up by a colleague who tells her: "In China, on the bus and everywhere else, you must push very hard." Mahoney is struck by the lack of confidence people have in the future but detects a "new refusal among the young." An invaluable analysis of student life in China just prior to the massacre in Tiananmen Square, written with verve, care, and affection. --Donna Seaman

Publisher's Weekly Review

Mahoney spent a year in China teaching English at Hangzhou University, one year prior to the massacre at Tiananmen Square. She found her students earnest, polite, fatalistic, resigned to their dependency on parents and the state. Many were sharply critical of their government, but feared the consequences of outspokenness or protest. While teaching a class on the collapse of the Third Reich, her students unanimously chimed, ``Hitler was a great man.'' She visited a women's prison where inmates, having committed ``acts harmful to marriage and family'' (presumably premarital sex), were ``re-educated.'' Everywhere she went she found tremendous poverty and backwardness, people suffocating under rules and regulations. With novelistic gifts and an eye for the telling detail, she captures the texture of daily life in a memorable odyssey. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Mahoney's book has the form of books such as Mark Saltzman's Iron and Silk ( LJ 2/1/87, and one of LJ 's ``Best Books of 1987''): the teacher or student abroad discovers Chinese society as seen through a year in one of its darkest corners, a provincial foreign languages department. To Mahoney, China is at times baffling, infuriating, and repellent. Her Chinese characters have the intensity of a medieval miniature, incised with short taut strokes of saturated color, while the deployment of incident, rhythm of character revelation, and development of the narrator are those of a crafty novelist. Since Mahoney discovers that to love China is to weep, her book is not the heartwarming one Saltzman's was; it is a deeper, more difficult, and perhaps a more lasting evocation of the country. Highly recommended for public library collections.-- Charles W. Hayford, Northwestern Univ., Evanston, Ill. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. viii
Shy, Quiet, Modestp. 3
Yang Shirenp. 14
Building and Buffalop. 24
The People's Englishp. 28
Ming Yup. 35
Correct Goalsp. 46
A Promising Partyp. 58
In the Botanical Gardenp. 74
Huang the Fatp. 85
The Early Arrival of Dreamsp. 97
Dr. Fup. 107
Mariap. 112
In the Cityp. 124
Shanghaip. 135
"Wake Up from Nightmare"p. 158
Yu Xingp. 176
"Make Way for Men Who Look Like Men"p. 185
A Life in the Countryp. 198
Japanp. 208
A New Coatp. 230
Professor Lip. 236
Red Noisep. 256
"The Shameful End of Hitler"p. 261
The Engineering Collegep. 275
Cao, Translator of Novelsp. 283
Examinationp. 293
The East is Redp. 312
Postscriptp. 320