In this mix of narrative and illustration, a man tells the story of his relationship with his wife from its blissful beginnings in pre-Maoist China through the hardships of the Cultural Revolution, during which he spent years in a re-education camp.
The text is above all a deeply moving love letter from Pingru to his wife ... it is also his love painting; almost every page is gorgeously illustrated with his enchanting, sometimes heartbreaking paintings ... Nicky Harman’s translation reads fluently in English and gives a sense of what must be the vibrancy of the original Chinese ... Where explanation of characters is needed, it is included gracefully, so the reader is not distracted ... I defy anyone to flip from the photographs inside the front cover, of Pingru and Meitang in youth, to the one inside the back cover, of them in old age, without feeling their eyes become moist.
The 350-page memoir, half in prose and half in color drawings, is a vivid, at times intimate, portrait of a changing China ... The perspective of a KMT soldier—something China's censors still limit today—will be an eye-opener for many readers, especially young people of Chinese descent around the world ... Pingru’s drawings recall illustrations in classic Chinese novels. These are 'wide-angle shots' that situate characters and action in a larger environment ... 'Close-ups' are rarer but striking ... Despite these powerful snapshots, much of Pingru’s life from the 1960s and 70s—a censored topic in China—is left unexplored. Mao’s name is never mentioned, nor the abuse of prisoners in labor camps, nor the decade-long Cultural Revolution ... As we read Our Story, we should keep in mind that it offers only a glimpse of some of the past century’s worst atrocities.
Pingru’s intimate, illustrated memoir of a life shared with his wife, Meitang, offers a touching portrait of marriage. The story is driven by rich memories of everyday life, from the perfect bowl of congee on a trip to Liuzhou to nights in the 1950s spent at dance halls with friends ... Paired with Pingru’s expressive ink drawings, which appear on nearly every page, and an appendix with letters Meitang wrote him when they were apart, Our Story makes a compelling case for love’s power.