Shen Yang, "More Than One Child: Memoirs of an Illegal Daughter" (Balestier Press, 2021)


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'I broke a law simply by being born.' In the late 1980s, Shen Yang was born during the fiercest years of China's One-Child Policy. As the second daughter of the family, she was a massive liability - an excess child, a product of illegal birth. From being raised by her grandparents in a remote village as soon as she was born, to being whisked away to her aunt's home in a distant faraway city, Shen Yang's existence was doomed to be shrouded in the utmost secrecy and silence. Armed with a false identity and ID card, she experienced years of neglect and humiliation from her aunt's volatile family who saw her as yet another burden to bear. On top of it all, it seemed her own biological parents had come to forget about her.

In More Than One Child: Memoirs of an Illegal Daughter (Balestier Press, 2021), by turns witty and inspiring, Shen Yang bravely provides a vivid account of the family planning era in China, as she jots down her journey towards overcoming the limits of her upbringing and forging her own identity amidst the sorrows of her childhood. More than One Child is not only Shen Yang's story; it is the untold story of the enormous, yet invisible community of excess-birth children. And this book is Shen Yang's way of saying goodbye to her childhood, and goodbye to an era. 'This is the voice of China's Invisible Generation - vividly written, well balanced, brilliant, humorous and very sharp - it elicits a rollercoaster of emotions that breaks through the silence shrouding the lives of excess children born during the One-Child Policy.' --Xinran (Author of The Good Women of China, and The Promise: Love and Loss in Modern China) "The One-Child-per-Family policy was a tragedy forced upon China's mothers, children and their families. Finally, in this book, Shen Yang has dared to tell the truth, speaking out bravely about the experiences she lived through." --Ma Jian (Author of The Dark Road) "Now that the one-child policy has been relaxed, the stories of these illegal children will soon be a part of China's national collective memory. But to those who grew up tainted with this humiliation, the scars are permanent. One is Chinese writer Shen Yang, who wrote her story in part to extinguish the nightmares that still haunt her."

John W. Traphagan, Ph.D. is Professor and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Fellow in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is also a professor in the Program in Human Dimensions of Organizations.

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