My grandfather was originally from the south of China before he emigrated to Malaysia pre-World War II. And I wanted to learn more about the history of the country of my ancestors. I knew I wanted a narrative set in contemporary Beijing. I was really interested in the effect of the rapid social and economic change on ordinary citizens in China.
I grew up in the once segregated South. I experienced forced integration during my formative school years. I lived the sacrifices, burdens, and tears. I also lived the moments of understanding, of acknowledgment, of fellowship and success. I saw my parents and grandparents coming home beaten down - and some of my friends beaten up.