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Departure & Return: One Family, Two Countries and a World of Connections

by Denis Wong - £16.99  Tin Gate (2023)
paperback    ISBN 13: 9781801000031 | ISBN 10: 1801000034

“A deeply engaging and elegantly told story of two-way passages between China and Britain”
~ Gregor Benton, Emeritus Professor of Chinese History at Cardiff University
 
Who am I? This question is often asked in youth, as a part of “coming of age”.
 
No longer in his youth, the author asks the question in hindsight, in the form of a memoir not only about individuals – himself and his father – but also about the nations and communities that nurtured them.
 
Those nations happen to be Britain and China and the specifics matter. It is possible, however, that generalities matter more, in particular those to do with shared human characteristics from which neither the British nor the Chinese can escape.
 
One of those characteristics is migration: humans travel beyond national and community boundaries, and one of the themes of this book is being both Chinese in Britain and British in China – both the author and his father fit these categories. Another is the ability to make progress, for example with the Chinese in Britain moving over recent decades from salt (seafaring), to soap (laundering), to soy (catering), to science. Such progress – both specific and general is made possible with the help of knowledge and education. The book focuses upon three forms which are both descriptive (of the past) and prescriptive (of possible futures): history, literature and science.
 
Through a family story and using his background in science, the author tells a tale of how we come to be where we are today, with a warning that we must heed the lessons of our past, not only within our own families, communities and nations, but also within those of others as well.

(Price & availability last checked: December 2023)

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