We have fond memories of Helen Zia’s first visit to Elliott Bay, for one of the early readings from the now classic Asian American Dreams. She returns tonight with a new book, Last Boat Out of Shanghai: The Epic Story of the Chinese Who Fled Mao's Revolution (Ballantine), which follows the stories of four young people caught up in the mass exodus of Shanghai in the wake of China’s 1949 Communist Revolution. Seventy years later, journalist Helen Zia interviewed surviving members of the last generation to experience the exodus (and an uncertain future in Hong Kong, Taiwan and the U.S.)
"Zia's portraits are compassionate and heartbreaking, and they are, ultimately, the universal story of many families who leave their homeland as refugees and find less-than-welcoming circumstances on the other side. I read with a personal hunger to know the political and personal exigencies that led to those now-or-never decisions, for they mirror the story of my own mother, who also left on virtually the last boat out of Shanghai." --Amy Tan.