Chen will play bamboo flutes and share Chinese calligraphy
In a rare appearance in this region, New York Times bestselling memoirist Da Chen, author of Colors of the Mountain, will speak on Thursday, Feb. 16, at 7 p.m., at the Collins Library of Oakwood Friends School. The event is free and open to the public, and promises to be much more of an animated, artistic presentation and exploration of values than a typical author’s reading. Chen will play bamboo flutes and share Chinese calligraphy with the audience.
Chen says he will have messages of character for the young people in the audience. They can be light-hearted, even humorous in spite of tragedies of childhood. And, they need “to be more than they can be…. to dream bigger,” becoming global citizens if even to be competitive with China in the future.
Now a Highland resident, Chen will speak of his dream of becoming an author telling tales from China to the world. He will draw from Colors of the Mountain and its young adult adaptation, China’s Son. Colors of the Mountain, Chen’s first memoir, was compared to Angela’s Ashes and was the object of an intense bidding war among five top New York publishing houses. There will be a question and answer period and Chen’s books will be available for sale. A reception, hosted by Chinese students attending Oakwood will be held afterward.
In China, Da Chen grew up running barefoot in muddy fields and riding the backs of water buffaloes. In his tiny Fujian village, there was not electricity or running water. As the grandson of a disgraced landowner, Chen was a victim of Communist political persecution and poverty during the Cultural Revolution.
Chen arrived in America at the age of 23 with $30 in his pocket and a bamboo flute. He attended Columbia University School of Law on a full scholarship, and upon graduating, worked for a Wall Street investment banking firm. He is now a full-time author and speaker. His books are used as textbooks in Yale, Vassar, Wellesley, in the SUNY system, and in high and middle schools throughout the country. Random House Crown will publish Da Chen’s seventh book, My Last Empress, in October.
The Oakwood Friends School is located at 22 Spackenkill Rd., Poughkeepsie. Oakwood Friends School, founded in 1796, is an independent, coeducational, college preparatory day and boarding school serving grades 6-12 guided by Quaker values. For further information call 845-462-4200.
Photo courtesy of Blue Flower Arts