Vessel: A Memoir

Vessel: A Memoir

By Chongda Cai

"Originally published as Pinang in China in 2014 by Guomai Culture and Media Co. Ltd."--Copyright page.


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Book Information

Publisher: Harpervia
Publish Date: 07/06/2021
Pages: 304
ISBN-13: 9780063038004
ISBN-10: 0063038005
Language: English

What We're Saying

July 06, 2021

Books to Watch | July 6, 2021

By Dylan Schleicher, Gabbi Cisneros, Emily Porter


July 01, 2021

Vessel: A Memoir

Book Review by Gabbi Cisneros

Through non-linear storytelling, Cai Chongda recalls his youth to young adulthood in 1980s China: his family, their homes, struggles with poverty and illness, his work and education, and the waves of Western influence on the village. READ FULL DESCRIPTION

Full Description

"Essential reading for anyone interested in contemporary life in China, and highly recommended for memoir enthusiasts in general." -- Library Journal (starred review)

"Chongda paints a tantalizing portrait of a changing China in his dazzling English-language debut. [Vessel] shines with the bright talent of an excellent storyteller." -- Publishers Weekly

An unprecedented and heartfelt memoir that illuminates the lives of rural Chinese workers, offering a portrait of generational strife, family, love, and loss that crosses cultures and time.

Cai Chongda spent his childhood in a rural fishing village in Fujian province. When his father--a former communist gang leader turned gas station owner--has a stroke that partially paralyzes him, his responsibilities fall to Cai, his only son.

Assuming his new role as head of the family, Cai toils alongside his mother and older sister to pay the medical bills that have become a part of a rapidly changing Chinese society. As Cai works his way through university and moves to Beijing, eventually becoming the editorial director of GQ China, he finds his life increasingly at odds with the family he supports but has left behind.

Like The Glass Castle and Hillbilly Elegy, Vessel neither romanticizes nor condemns the people and circumstances that shaped a young man's life, but instead offers a way forward, revealing how tradition can enrich modern life.

Translated from the Chinese by Dylan Levi King

About the Author

Writer, media personality, and entrepreneur, Cai Chongda was born in 1982. He grew up in the small coastal town of Minnan in the Fujian province of China. At 24, Cai became the News Editor of influential Chinese magazine, Modern Weekly. His provocative writing continues to make him a controversial figure in China.

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