In 1940, Li Na was born as the youngest son of a government official in a mansion in Nanjing. China was in the throes of World War II and the Sino–Japanese War; Nanjing itself was in the grip of a Japanese–collaborationist government. Twenty–one years later, when Li–now called Charles–abandoned China forever, the nation was fully embroiled in the chaos of Chairman Mao's Communist reform campaigns.
This is the story of the tumultuous years in between, years when Li lived through an almost unbelievable range of the emerging nation's many identities. At the same time, this is Li's personal story of his quest for acceptance and approval from his family, particularly his harsh, manipulative father. In this exceptional memoir, readers will experience not only the growth pains of a nation undergoing torturous rebirth, but will also gain an intimate understanding of the intricate, subtle, and yet all–powerful motivations and ties that bound the traditional Chinese family.
Lyrical and luminous, intense and illuminating, The Bitter Sea is the unique tale of the coming–of–age of one young man and his country.