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Posted inBay City Books

Vanessa Hua ponders the power of teenage girls amid China’s Cultural Revolution in ‘Forbidden City’

Something true: San Francisco is a place of reinvention. Breaching the peninsula comes with the ability to abandon who you were across the bay, across the ocean, across the world. For Mei Xiang, the protagonist of Bay Area author and journalist Vanessa Hua’s second novel, “Forbidden City,” a waitressing job in San Francisco’s Chinatown provides her the physical and emotional distance to recount her adolescent life in China amidst the Cultural Revolution in the final years of Chairman Mao Zedong’s life. Here, in Hua’s alternative universe, he’s called only “The Chairman,” and the close relationship Mei had not only to him, but also to his ideals for a modern China, molds her future.