“Blue is the colour of the Miao, the ancient people to which I belong on my mother’s side. Blue is the wind rousing old memories, shaping them and making them new. Blue is the China thousands of li from here. Blue is the colour of my nostalgia.”
Blue China is the inspiring memoir of Bamboo Hirst, a half-Chinese, half-Italian girl born into war-torn China in 1939. The book opens with the love story between her parents – an Italian diplomat spy and a Chinese singer who meet and fall in love in Shanghai during the 30s – a time of espionage and chicanery between the east and west.
At the age of thirteen, Bamboo is forced to leave China as a ‘foreigner’ under Mao’s political regime. The story follows her seventy-day journey to Naples, where Bamboo arrives, alone, only to discover that her father has abandoned her. The story of an orphaned Chinese girl hits the Italian headlines, but Bamboo refuses all offers of adoption and chooses to be taken in by the Nuns of San Vincenzo, where she lives for the next six years.
At the age of twenty Bamboo’s striking looks are spotted by Pierre Cardin in a restaurant and so begins a new chapter of her life, this time in the glamorous world of fashion… Working firstly as a model, Bamboo then moved onto work in public relations for major fashion houses such as Basile, Gheradini and Antonio Fusco.
Beautifully written, with great intelligence and wit, Blue China is a story of a quest to find true identity and a place in the world. Bamboo Hirst writes with great insight on the politics of China both past and present, tackling issues of multiculturalism and gender, whilst also painting a vibrant and authentic picture of life in China today
Blue China is more than a memoir, it is (as Xinran Xue writes in her introduction) “a path to the Chinese heart”.