The scene is May Day, 1953 and tens of thousands of enthusiastic youth have gathered at Tiananmen Square. The programmed celebration over, groups of classmates stay on through the night, dancing, laughing, singing, even finding romance in the party-like atmosphere of the square. These young people move through their world with confidence, curiosity, and playfulness. Mingwei Song's description of this first novel by Wang Meng 王蒙 (1934–), Qingchun wansui 青春萬歲 (Long Live Youth), is poignant. Only a few years after the novel was written, Mao Zedong 毛澤東 (1893–1976) called out to youth, “The world is yours. . . . You are like the sun at eight or nine in the morning” (286). But by then the young Wang Meng was already in a Xinjiang labor camp, a victim of the Hundred Flowers and Anti-Rightist Campaigns. As Song shows in this final chapter of Young...

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