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Sounds of the River: A Young Man's University Days in Beijing
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Sounds of the River: A Young Man's University Days in Beijing

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  431 Ratings  ·  68 Reviews
In this "equally beguiling sequel to his acclaimed memoir, Colors of the Mountain" (Kirkus Reviews), teenager Da Chen takes his first train ride away from the farm he was raised on to his new university life in Beijing. He soon faces a host of ghastly challenges, including poor living conditions, lack of food, and suicidal roommates. Undaunted by these hurdles, and armed w ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published February 4th 2003 by Harper Perennial (first published 2002)
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Oct 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This was really a portrait of a poor Chinese scholar who did not give up his hopes and dreams of studying in America. I have profound respect for people of his generation.
Ethan Martin
Apr 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Amazing book , I walked in da chens shoes. I felt his losses and smiled with his victories.
May 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
This spring, I read Sounds of the River, a memoir written by the Chinese author Da Chen. Chen was born in 1962, and therefore grew up during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution led by the Communist Party leader, Mao Zedong. Chen’s father, previously a landowner, was beaten and thrown in a reform camp during this time, and nine-year-old Da Chen was threatened with imprisonment, because landowning was contrary to the ideals Mao was attempting to indoctrinate Chinese society with during the C ...more
Xingzhi Zhao
Apr 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
I picked up the book Sounds of the River for my ninth grade English class selective reading project. This autobiography of Chen Da was full of struggle of a little Yellowstone farmer’s son who tries to achieve his American Dream. This story is full of yielding to the reality and corruption in the Chinese society and getting to the goal no matter how hard the situation is. From a person who had almost identical experience to my parents, I could understand his thoughts and struggle better by conne ...more
Park Ji
Apr 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This autobiography Sounds of the River written by Da Chen was very inspirational for me to read. As a freshman for the Beijing Language Institute and a boy who was raised in Yellowstone, Da faces numerous challenges that he has never experienced. Living with a roommate, being surrounded by skyscrapers, and going to school with foreigners allows Da to become more mature and active in his social life. Da's ambition towards academics propels him to be one of the best candidates for studying abroad ...more
Jan 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
After reading Da Chen’s first memoir Colors of the Mountain, I had to read the sequel to it. This second memoir opens with 16-year old Chen boarding the train for Beijing to begin his life at a prestigious university. It ends with him becoming a professor at the university and eventually receiving a scholarship to study in the United States. What a huge transition! What an experience it was for a young man from a small rural village to face the world of a city that was far beyond anything he had ...more
Masamune Yamano
Sounds of the River is a memoir written by Da Chen in 2002. He is a Chinese author and was born1962, in a small village of Fujian, China. He is a graduate of Beijing Language and Culture University and Columbia Law School. He wanted to study English, so he went to Beijing Language Institute. He wrote many famous books such as Colors of the Mountain, China's Son: Growing Up in the Cultural Revolution, Wandering Warrior, Brothers,and My Last Empress.

I had a chance to read one book from three book
Leo Yang
Apr 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Sounds of the River (STR) is a quite moving and inspiring memoir to crack open. Despite the author, Da Chen, is actually a Chinese, the language was intriguing. Da was born in 1962 in the remote village of Southern China. His parents have suffered from the cruel Cultural Revolution led by the communist party, which has taken everything that family used to own. Property and jobs were taken away. Friendship and family relations were torn apart. It was all the heavy labors and scarce educational re ...more
henry zhang
Apr 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
This spring, I read the book “Sounds of the River” by Da Chen. The book cover attracted me before I even read it because of the Chinese character on it. The author, Da Chen, is not a famous writer in China, and all his books don’t have a Chinese vision even though he is Chinese. He was born in Fujian, China in 1962, and went to a decent collage called “Beijing Language and Culture University”. This book is about his journey in this Collage, and how he achieved his goal, which was go aboard. “Sou ...more
Apr 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Sounds of the River is a memoir written by Chinese author, Da Chen. The book follows Chen's own journey as an ambitious university student in Beijing during the 1980s, and is a tale of perseverance, discrimination, and ultimately, success. Through the book, it seems that Chen was trying to express how far hard work can get you, and what has to be sacrificed in order to achieve one's dreams. Chen's long and winding journey is chronicled masterfully with raw, yet very descriptive language that ne ...more
Sage Mines
Apr 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Sounds of the River by Da Chen is a autobiography book set in Beijing China for most of the book. Da Chen was born in the tiny village of Fujian, and has been accepted to Beijing Language Institute in the big city of Beijing, to study English. From his first class at the university he realizes that his English skills are far behind the other students so he works hard and puts in many hours to go from worst in his class to best, and makes many friends along the way. He hears that there is a chanc ...more
Eveline Chao
Memoir of the author's college years at BLCU (Beijing Languages and Culture University, then called Beijing Languages Institute) during the early 1980s, as one of the first class of Chinese allowed to study alongside foreigners (though not in the same classes or dorms). We follow him arriving in Beijing as a hick from Fujian, studying English, doing an internship that involves meeting Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and eventually discovering Christianity and getting to the US. And making a lot of poop and ...more
Alvaro de Zabala
May 04, 2016 rated it really liked it

Sounds of the River is a book written by Da Chen. Da Chen is a chinese author born in Fujian, China in 1962. He grew up in Fujian and later decided to move to beijing to attend college. The then finished top in his class and moved to the United States. He attended Columbia University with a full scholarship and graduated in 1990. He has written many other books about his life just like this one. In this book he wrote about his experience at college and the hardships he went through to be success

Giorgo Caripidis
Apr 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Sounds of the River by Da Chen is one of the best experiences I have had in an assigned reading. The plot revolves around Da Chen a young college student who is going for his first time outside of Yellow Stone, his hometown. He goes around Bejing as he finishes his college years and eventually gets a job. But even thought Da is Chinese, he still seems like a foreigner to the culture in Bejing, making for a simple plot about a boy learning what it's like to be in one of the biggest cities in th ...more
Alan Zhu
Apr 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Sounds of the River is a memoir written by Chinese author Chen Da. This book is about Chen's journey from being a country boy, to a language school college student, and in the end, achieving his "American Dream". Chen encountered all kinds of challenges, including difficulties adapting to life in Beijing, his friend's death, and corruption within the Communist Party and the college administration. He persevered, and with a bit of luck, he was finally able to go to the United States, which seemed ...more
James Choi
Apr 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Sounds of the River is a memoir written by Da Chen, a chinese author. The story taking place in Beijing during the 1980s, and it's main plot handles Da Chen's journey as an university student (Beijing Language Institute). During the course of the book, Da Chen shoes that hard work pays off, and what it takes to become successful. Da Chen does a phenomenal job in masterfully writing down his own journey with raw and descriptive language.
"Qiu–the Chinese word for autumn–brought to mind lotuses, f
Yun Liu
Apr 18, 2016 is currently reading it

The book Sounds of the River was a book that affected my viewpoint of China. I personally do not like this book because this author is using his perspective talking about something that only happened to a specific type of people in China. For example in the previous of the book, there was an old lady on the train. However, she was a really rude lady that took Da's sit on the train. Although Da was holding his ticket and showing that he owned this spot, the old lady was not going anywhere. The

Griffin Fitzmaurice
Apr 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Sounds of the River By Da Chen, is a Memoir about his days of being a college student far away from home in Beijing, China. Da Chen was born in Fujian, China in 1962. He grew up in a poor landowning family that was subject to lots of communist persecution, including beatings and imprisonment. Da went to college in Beijing at the age of sixteen and later went to the United States with only $30 in his pocket. He then went to the Columbia University School of Law and then worked for a Wall Street ...more
Nick Jessop
May 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Sounds of the River by Da Chen is a lot of fun to read because the energy and mood changes drastically throughout the book. The book is funny in some parts and very sad and depressing in other parts. I think the author wrote this biography to express his educational experience in China. This book is about Da Chen's experiences at college in the 1980's. It is not a typical college experience because Da is from a small, poor farming town and he has to transition to a urban enviroment. Da was able ...more
Feb 06, 2012 rated it liked it
I found this book by random, so my review of this book may not be as well supported as the others since this particular one is not the first of the series- as i found out later. However this book is alive. It really creates a mirror into his life, its personal and wonderfully told. Da Chen's description of nature and the people, his culture are rich and tantalizing. Even though the subject in which he speaks mostly of are his university days; he allows the reader to sympathize for him. laugh wit ...more
Nick Page
May 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Sounds of the River by Da Chen is the intriguing autobiography of a boy from Yellowstone, China and his journey through college and city life in Beijing. He explains through his peculiar writing style just all of the changes and surprises that welcomed him in college. The way in which Da Chen writes it, he makes you feel as if you are on the journey with him to a strange new world. I quite admired the fact that he stayed himself even when he was in the city, “Though a city man now, I still lived ...more
Sarah Lin
Apr 08, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: yes
Sensitive portrayal of one man's journey from Yellow River, a small farming village along the coast of Southeast China, to the Beijing Language Institute for college (to major in English.) Memoir. Paints an honest portrayal of prejudices b/w Chinese from cities versus countryside, b/w farmers and scholars, and reveals some of the hidden workings of China.
Feb 06, 2009 rated it liked it
If you can't handle too many metaphors in one sentence, don't read this book. I liked Sounds of the River best for its glimpse into a young man's journey from small town life in the Chinese countryside to Beijing as well as its portrayal of university life in Beijing in the 1980s.
Aug 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book. Chen makes reading a joy.
His story of China takes into a very fun, humble ordinary world.
Filled with extraordinary people.

A great read.

I recommend it to everyone..including high school aged readers.
Aug 26, 2008 rated it liked it
Interesting read, especially in light of the recent Beijing Olympics. I can always do without adolescent antics, but that is par for the course I assume. The descriptions are beautiful and Da Chen has a very poetic way of writing.
Ryan Paik
May 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Sounds of the River is Da Chen’s frank, down-to-earth sequel to his memoir Colours of the Mountain. In it, Da Chen describes the twists and turns of his college years in his journey of life. Born in 1962 in Fujian, China, Da Chen was a victim of “communist political persecution and hollowing poverty” according to BookBrowse. A survivor of the Cultural Revolution in China, Da Chen arrived in America when he was 23 years old with only $30 in his pocket and a flute and attended Columbia University ...more
Oct 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
the sequel begins with Da Chen taking his first train ride to Beijing and ends with him winning a chance to study in America.
Aug 24, 2008 rated it liked it
2nd part of Da Chen's life story. More engaging than Colors of the Mountain, but not one of my favorite books by any means.
Derek. Deng
May 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Sounds of the river book review
After the spring break, we began to have a free reading project in English class for three weeks. I choose the book sounds of the river, and the only reason that I chose this book at that time is because it is a story that happened in China, which makes me feels like this book will be a little bit easier. Later I start the book, I find out it is a story that is really interesting, since I never have that kind of experience in China before.
The story begins at a re
Tony Ayoub
May 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was deeply moved by this nonfiction biography written by Da Chen. Mr. Chen life is an unbelievable story. I chose Sounds of the River over three other books in my English class. The reason why is because when I read the synopsis I thought it would be interesting how is the Chinese perspective in an international school because I can relate it to my life in Cardigan Mountain School as an international student. Da Chen was born in Yellow Stone, which is a little town in southern china. Mr. Chen ...more
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Da Chen (born in 1962 in Fujian, China) is a Chinese author whose works include Brothers, China's Son, Sounds of the River, Sword, and Colors of the Mountain. A graduate of Beijing Language and Culture University and Columbia Law School, Da Chen lived in the Hudson Valley in New York but has recently moved to Torrance, California with his wife, the paranormal romance author Sunni, and two children ...more
More about Da Chen...