SONS OF HEAVEN by Terrence Cheng
Publisher William Morrow, May 2002
SONS OF HEAVEN is an epic novel set against the backdrop of one of modern
history's most haunting events: the Tiananmen Square Massacre. In June of
1989, the world watched in horror as China's military was mobilized to
suppress a student movement that stood for peaceful democracy. Hundreds were
killed; others say into the thousands. No one knows for sure.
But the image that remains most powerful is that of a lone young man,
looking confused yet terribly brave, as he held his ground before a rolling
line of tanks. Who was he, and why did he do what he did? No one has ever
been able to determine his identity or fate. Within the pages of SONS OF
HEAVEN, in a stunning blend of history and fiction, Terrence Cheng has
vividly created for this young hero a life, and given him a voice.
Cheng constructs the young man's life as he goes away to America to complete
his education. He falls in love with a beautiful young American girl who
opens to him a free life filled with opportunity. When he returns to China
he becomes embittered and disillusioned; only the potential for political
change seems to revive him. Also portrayed is the story of the young man's
older brother, an ardent member of the Red Army, who is ordered to capture
his sibling. In the end, their political differences turn deadly. On one
level this is a novel of history as played out in modern China, but first
and foremost, it is about the universal ties of family and the difficult
process of boys learning to become men.
Cheng also scrutinizes the life and history of Deng Xiaoping, China's leader
who is suspected of giving the final order to turn the People's Army against
its own people. What historical and political factors affected his decisions
that fateful summer? Was Deng the monster that the world made him out to be?
An unsettling and powerfully lacerating story of family, faith, and courage,
SONS OF HEAVEN weaves the lives of peasants and soldiers, politicians and
gods, into a timeless snapshot of one of history's most memorable and
heartrending events. With this unforgettable, psychologically acute novel,
Terrence Cheng confirms that he is a daring and important new voice in
"A vivid and imaginative fictional recounting of the events of
Tiananmen Square...a compelling read...in a brisk style with plenty of
-- Kirkus Reviews
"The whole world held its breath for the man who defied the column
of tanks during the Tiananmen Square revolt, wondering who he was, how he
had the nerve to do what he did. Terrence Cheng's SONS OF HEAVEN finds
that mysterious man for us in a wonderfully accessible, first novel,
ringing with history.
-- John Balaban, author of Spring Essence: The Poetry of
Ho Xuan Huon
"A sweeping panorama of recent Chinese history that evokes the
great nineteenth century fictional narratives, SONS OF HEAVEN is a
performance of rare storytelling and intellectual perception and is the
next best thing to having been there as China changed forever."
-- Lester Goran, author of Tales from the Irish Club
SONS OF HEAVEN is a Discovery Awards Honorable Mention in Fiction for 2002...
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