Born in 1942 in Chongqing, Sichuan, Zhang Yihe was the daughter of Zhang Bojun, a high official in the Chinese Communist Party who was purged in 1957, during the PRC’s Anti-Rightist Campaign, and labeled a public enemy. Three years later, Zhang Yihe entered the National Academy of Chinese Theater Arts, but in 1963, she was sent down to a Sichuanese opera troupe, far from Beijing, for offending Mao Zedong’s powerful wife. For this offense and the fact of being the daughter of “China’s Number One Rightist,” Zhang Yihe was convicted in 1970 of counterrevolutionary activities and sentenced to twenty years in prison. In 1979, she was cleared and allowed to return to Beijing, where she joined the Chinese National Opera Academy and eventually became a professor of theatre arts. She retired in 2001 and started writing memoirs of people who lived during the era of Mao and the Cultural Revolution. In 2004, she received the International PEN Award for Independent Chinese Writing.
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