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Best-selling author Da Chen to speak at Rockford College April 29

Thursday, April 22, 2010  
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For immediate release – 4/12/10
Contact: Elise Cadigan, Downtown Rotary Club (sponsor), 968-5342

An award-winning author who grew up in poverty in China and whose family was persecuted during the Cultural Revolution, will speak at Rockford College April 29, 7:30- p.m. in the Maddox Theatre. His topic is entitled "From Suppression to Wall St. to Random House.” 
Da Chen has written such books as "Colors of the Mountain,” a New York Times bestseller, "China’s Son,” "Sounds of the River,” "Wandering Warrior,” "Brothers,” his most recent book, and "My Empress,” soon to be released from Random House. All are memoirs that deal in some way with his experience growing up in Mao-era China and are being read in places as varied as college classes and grade schools. 

According to his Web site, Da Chen grew up in the deep south of China, running barefoot in muddy fields and riding the backs of water buffaloes. In his tiny Fujian village, water was collected from an ancient well swimming with snakes, and the only lights that burned in most households were hissing kerosene lanterns.

As the grandson of a disgraced landowner, he was a victim of communist political persecution and poverty during the Cultural Revolution. His family was beaten, his father thrown in reform camp, and young Chen, at the age of 9, was threatened with imprisonment.

After learning English from a professor who befriended him, Da Chen went on to college at Beijing Languages and Culture University, and stayed on as a professor of English after graduating top in his class. He arrived in the U.S. at the age of 23 "with $30 in his pocket, a bamboo flute, and a heart filled with hope.” He attended Columbia University School of Law on a full scholarship and then worked for the Wall Street investment banking firm of Rothschild’s, Inc. He left the firm in 2000 to pursue his writing career.

Da Chen’s talk is free and open to the public, though tickets must be reserved through the Rockford College box office, phone 815-226-4100.

While in Rockford, Da Chen will also speak at the district conference of Rotary International, April 30 – May 2 at Clock Tower Resort.

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