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Sotto cieli rossi. Diario di una millennial cinese

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  914 ratings  ·  133 reviews
Nata in un piccolo paese vicino Tianjin tre mesi prima del massacro di piazza Tienanmen del 4 giugno 1989, Karoline Kan ci racconta la sua storia, e la storia della sua generazione, stretta tra la politica autoritaria cinese, il boom economico e il rapidissimo sviluppo tecnologico. Karoline, trent'anni, rientra a pieno diritto nella generazione dei millennial, e da quel pu ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published May 14th 2020 by Bollati Boringhieri (first published March 12th 2019)
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Average rating 4.09  · 
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May 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a memoir of sorts from a young woman who is a Chinese "millenial" and who was born at the time of the Tienanmen Square massacre (or the “June 4th event” as it is referred to in China and in the book). Ms. Kan recounts her childhood move from a village to a town and her eventual move to Beijing to attend university. This is an account of the transition from Communist China to the new China under Deng's policy of opening up of markets and encouraging capitalism and economic prosperity with ...more
Jul 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, audiobooks
As a member of the millennial generation in China, Karoline Kan has witnessed the rapid technological progress and booming commercialisation of Beijing while being painfully aware of the very different and difficult lives her parents and grandparents have had.

Kan was born in a farming village in 1989, the year of the protests in Tiananmen Square. The one child policy was strictly policed by the authorities and her mother had to hide this second pregnancy from them to avoid an enforced abortion
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an exceptional book that captivated me from the first page on. With powerful and moving words, the author explains in detail the actions and motives of the government and their reception by the people. Kan creates a story for deeper understanding of the Chinese culture and presents her own origins (personal and authentic family history with changes in generation and traditions) connected to the well explained history of China. She combines all this information in a wonderful narrative me ...more
Horace Derwent
the road was Fengyang Road, Shanghai, and the plastic bag in the girl's hand was KFC. i think the cover photo was shot within 10~15 years before ...more
Jun 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I want to start the review by saying that the author is pretty much full of herself. Given her age (not even thirty) and her background, I rated this memoir five stars because of that, not in spite of it. At the ripe age of 28, I believe we were all full of ourselves. She is honest and tells a compelling story that I can't wait to read page after page. I don't ask more from a memoir.

I was born and raised in Beijing, China. I am about 15 years older than the author. Whatever she described, I liv
From BBC Radio 4:
Karoline Kan was born in 1989, the year of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Her generation has always been caught between China’s authoritarian politics and its hyper-modern technology and economic boom.

In her quest to understand the shifting sands of global, connected China, Karoline turns to her family, who have survived Maoism and its legacy by breaking with tradition. Navigating a society beset by poverty and often violent political unrest, the Kans swapped rural villages for
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderfully written, enlightening and frequently poignant coming of age story set in modern China. Karoline Kan’s writing rips along through her childhood and adolescence, but the story never feels rushed, painting a portrait of village life in a rapidly changing country and how disjointed and rudderless rapid development can leave you feeling, even when it’s presenting never before seen opportunities and new freedoms.

(Disclosure: I read a review copy provided by the publisher and also worked
Kuang Ting
May 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am a reader from Taiwan, and find this book particularly insightful. I am almost the same age as the author. Therefore, I think her descriptions are very useful for readers, especially Western readers, to understand contemporary China. China has undergone one of the most rapid transformation in human's history during the last few decades. The cultural, economic, political, and almost everything change so fast that full comprehension is sometimes not possible. Taiwan is also part of the intrica ...more
Dec 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hd, 2019
Really interesting and well-written memoir of a Chinese millennial. Covers so many interesting topics, I love the way that she shares her own story as well as her parents and grandparents. She is so reflective and honest of her own journey coming to age in this country and learning the strengths and weaknesses found in its traditions and policies
Mohamed Tahar Hamada
''People fear what they don't understand''

This book came exactly in a time where we hearing a lot about china and where myself have been in a kind of a quest to know more about the ''middle earth country'' that always seems like we know lot and nothing about it in the same time like a dilemma,Mainly because the little amount of reliable informations and facts from inside from a side and the rare opening up of chinese people around their opinions publicly.
This book takes you through a journey and
Kamila Kunda
Sep 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, non-fiction, asia, china
I have read a fair number of memoirs written by Chinese authors. My fascination with the decade of the Cultural Revolution and the times shortly afterwards used to be immense. After I felt I satisfied my interest sufficiently, it subsided for a while as I waited for the new generation of Chinese to start writing about their experiences. Karoline Kan is the first millennial, whose account of life in the times of rapid economic, political and social transformation entitled “Under Red Skies” I have ...more
I love reading books about other countries and cultures. Asia has always interested me and this book definitely fit into my need to know. Although the narrator often (alot!) sounded as though she was telling a fairy tale. At times it was amusing but mostly irritating. All in all, a very good look into the typical life of the Chinese.
If you have any interest in China and it's recent history, this book is fabulous! Told by a millennial about her and her family, who have lived through the ups and downs of surviving poverty and political unrest to find a better life, I am finding this book hard to put down!
Just finished it! Loved it!
Jill Robbertze
Aug 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a really good memoir and family's story told from in insider's perspective in China. I have read several books, both fiction and non-fiction that cover the time from the Cultural Revolution through to the Tiananmen square tradgedy, but this one brings us right up until very recent times and I like that Karoline Kan tells her story in a concise way which is never repetitive or boring. An easy read for anyone who would like to learn something of the history and culture of China. ...more
Juno Zhang
May 11, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Biased US narrative and propaganda
The book is fun at times, but has a clear agenda to attack the Chinese communist party, appealing to the taste of US readers. Many things Kan describes is true, for example students had to be patriotic, join the young pioneers and wear red scarfs. But Kan’s political commentary belies her lack of knowledge and reliance on inaccurate US/western accounts of events. The Tiananmen Square demonstration was never a “peaceful protest” as Kan claims, and the torturing o
Dec 08, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow. Okay so basically Karoline Kan is a wonderful writer. I’m an American studying at a Beijing high school right now, and this book reminded me how little I understand the majority of Chinese people’s lives and backgrounds. After hearing about the perspectives and backgrounds of my host family and friends here, it’s easy to stereotype and assume most Chinese people even just in Beijing have the same experience. That is so not correct! But it’s also important to realize that her perspective isn ...more
Jun 06, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It's interesting to read a first hand account of growing up as a millennial in China, especially since I've been living in China for most of that time. Even as an outsider it feels like a familiar story, connecting the bits and pieces you pick up when chatting with local friends, colleagues and clients.

The Three Generations in the subtitle hint of Jung Chang's or Amy Tan sweeping family histories, but in comparison Kan's is more a diary than a novel and not in the same literary league.

If you thi
Ava Pk
Aug 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Under Red Skies is an engaging eyewitness account about Karoline's quest to understand the rapidly evolving, shifting sands of China."
Only the second autobopgraphy I've read in my life after Anne Frank's diary, I forgot how enjoyable it is to not only learn about the lives of others, but to learn about history! Kan offers a window into her upbringing as a millenial in China amid its modernisation. She tells us stories, touching on interesting topics including: the two-child policy, abortion an
Jan 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first 2/3rds were a solid 5 stars: they were the parts about Karoline’s grandparents and parents and her own childhood. This is when the biggest changes take place in China, and Karoline does a wonderful job of integrating personal history and the country’s trajectory. I feel like I learned so much about China.

Where it gets a little weaker is the final part, which is about Karoline in university and then entering the job market. She was only 28 when she wrote this, so it’s not surprising tha
Jun 03, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I feel harsh giving it three stars since I definitely enjoyed it, but it did leave me wanting more. An autobiography/memoir about the challenges and hardships of growing up in China, it seemed like the story tried to do two things; tell a story about China as a whole, and tell Karoline's specific story of growing up. But I wasn't too touched by her story and I didn't feel like I learned too much about China beyond her experience. Still a great, well-written story though and a good window into Ch ...more
Aug 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A 3.5 read but I rounded up. This is an interesting and for me edifying book. It answered several questions I had about this period of China’s culture and politics. To write a book in a foreign language is amazing and she did a great job.
Ben Smitthimedhin
Nov 28, 2020 marked it as couldnt-finish  ·  review of another edition
"It was her body after all, and she believed it should be her choice."
I don't know if I could call this a memoir. Some heavy-handed pro-American democracy propaganda here that I couldn't make it past chapter 2.
Caroline Gemes
Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such an interesting story about her life through multiple generations in China. Learned so much about their culture and realties through her life. It kept me engaged and not wanting to put it down.
Aug 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 Stars

This was such an interesting read, it offered a glimpse of the tension between generations and ideas in a rapidly changing China. Where traditions are changing, or being pushed out entirely by capitalism and a modernizing society. The story is centered on the writer, Karoline Kan, who’s parents moved from a small village to a town nearby, which eventually gave her the opportunity to study in Beijing, drawing a parallel between the lack of opportunities her grandma had growing up during
Mr. Casarez
Aug 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have mixed feelings about this book--on one hand, it's a pretty great overview of recent Chinese history, and a detailed look into the life of a Chinese woman born in the countryside in 1988. Comparing her situation with my own was enlightening. On the other hand, the second half of the book tends more towards a discussion of her love life, which I just didn't find as interesting. Some quibbles with her history, which tends to be pretty generalized, and I found her prose only decent. However, ...more
An insightful multigenerational memoir from a Chinese millennial and feminist. Kan reveals that despite cultural and social split between East and West, we have more in common with each other than differences. Approachable and enlightening.
Mar 14, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I continue with my “China project,” and this book was actually quite a good choice! It’s a story of a young girl/woman (born in 1989), who talks about her family and life in China in those recent years. It is very much like “Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China” by Jung Chang, only shorter, lighter, and about the period about which Jung Chang did NOT talk in her book, i.e. China in the 1990s-2000s, because Jung Chang emigrated from China in 1978 and her book does not cover her life or China’s hi ...more
Rebekah Miller
Jan 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Born illegally as a second child in the one child policy era, Karoline Kan details the courage of her mother as she fought to save her daughter’s life. China had people in place who encouraged abortions or enforced the exorbitant fines on second children. Karoline’s mother managed to outwit every attempt to end her pregnancy and, later, to take away her ability to have more children.

Her mother’s courage did not begin with this on purpose pregnancy. It began earlier, in Karoline’s grandmothers’ s
Jul 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
With UNDER RED SKIES, Karoline Kan’s dream comes true. She becomes a published author, sharing her family’s and her country’s story of love, loss, family, and most especially of change.

Karoline starts her story with her mother pregnant with her. Karoline is her mother’s second child in a society in which each couple is limited, by law, to only one. Karoline talks about traditions, customs, and values, and her family’s moves to try to better their situation. She talks about her fight to go to col
Apr 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: china-books
I really enjoyed this book. It isn't a book that is going to teach you a lot about Chinese history or politics, but it is a really honest window into what it was like to grow up as a millenial in China. From teachers scolding students for not crying enthusiastically enough when Deng Xiaoping died, to the discovery of VPNs and learning about what happened in the late 80s, Karoline's experiences bring a human element, making it much easier to empathize with young Chinese people.

A very interesting
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“According to Chinese scholars who conducted field research in villages of ten provinces in 1995, 10 percent of China’s rural women suffered from health problems caused by forced abortions and sterilization surgeries.” 0 likes
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