Sequel to the acclaimed 'Colours Of The Mountain' and second volume of Da Chen's lyrical trilogy of memoirs.
Teenager Da Chen gathers soil from the riverbank near his village in China's far south, before he leaves to attend university in Beijing, to bear witness to his past and contain the sounds of the river of his childhood. Later, spilled on the dry earth of the North, they will merge two parts of Da's life.
Beginning with his first train journey to Beijing from his parents' farm, we rumble along with him in the overcrowded and disease-ridden railway carriage to the university. Here the author faces a range of challenges, including poor living conditions, lack of food, and suicidal roommates.
Undaunted by these hurtles and armed with a dogged determination to learn English and familiarise himself with "all things Western", he must compete with every other student to win a chance to study in the US - a chance that rests in the shrewd and corrupt hands of the all-powerful professors.
In a richly textured story - by turns poetic, ribald, hilarious, and heartbreaking - Chen retains his indomitable spirit, but will he be any closer to attaining his goal?