I had heard much about the Unity Temple and the unique building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Susan and her two young daughters immediately took me for a quick tour and pointed out the open design, the two levels where the congregation gathered, and the wooden materials used throughout the building. Then they ushered me to a large room where tables were set up for a potluck dinner and many women had gathered in small groups, chatting. I immediately engaged in a conversation with two women who had finished reading my book.
“Excuse me,” Susan poked her head into the group with a big smile. “I want to share you with more people,” she said, leading me away.
After a few announcements of the group’s future activities and half an hour of chatting and eating, I talked about my growing up experience in China, particularly about living through the persecution of my parents during the Cultural Revolution. Several women in the audience asked questions and made comments after the talk. One compared the similarity between China’s Cultural Revolution to her family’s experience in Cuba, and another expressed her outrage that a few Americans set up a booth at the Printers Row Book Fair a couple of years before to promote Mao who started the Cultural Revolution. Despite running late, we had long and lively discussion session.
“I have been to China,” one woman said. “I read your book with interest and want to thank you for giving me a personal perspective. I’m very touched by the strength demonstrated by your family,” she continued, her voice filled with emotion. “I’m so happy to see you are doing well now.”
Another woman asked how each of my siblings were doing and where they were now.
Throughout the evening, I found several people in the audience had been to China or had Chinese friends. One woman had a Chinese daughter-in-law and asked me to sign the book for her in Chinese. “My daughter-in-law would love it,” she beamed at the hand-written characters in Chinese.
Once again, I’m delighted and humbled by the interest and response I received.
Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China. www.mulberrychild.com.