American-born Chinese writer Wai Chim recently launched her latest book, Freedom Swimmer, in Sydney, Australia. Over 50 readers and media representatives attended the launch. Freedom Swimmer is based on the true story of Wai Chim’s father’s escape from communist China.
The main character in the book, Ming, is based on the author’s father. Ming’s parents died of hunger during the Great Leap Forward. At the age of 19, to escape the worsening political and economic situation in China, he swam to Hong Kong in 1973 along with Li, another young man from his village.
Sadly, Li was attacked by a shark and was picked up by patrolling Hong Kong police. He was sent back to a correctional camp in China for several years. Despite this terrible setback, Ming made it safely to Hong Kong.
As a first generation American-born Chinese woman, Wai Chim hopes that her new book will provide another perspective for the Western world to learn about this dark period in Chinese contemporary history. For Chim, the Chinese culture is more than food, art, or language that is currently taught in Western schools.
The decade of the Cultural Revolution was full of chaos, immense challenges, and absurdities. She believes that it is important for the world to study and to learn from it.
Wai Chim was born in New York. She graduated from Duke University with degrees in economics and English. Her writings include Chook Chook, the junior novel series.
Translation edited by Kathy McWilliams