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Da Chen biography

Author Biography  | Interview  | Books by this Author  | Read-Alikes

Da Chen
Phtot: Thomas Jack Hilton

Da Chen

Da Chen Biography

Da Chen grew up in the deep south of China, running barefoot in muddy fields and riding the backs of water buffaloes. As the grandson of a disgraced landowner, he was a victim of communist political persecution and hollowing poverty during the Cultural Revolution. His family was beaten, his father thrown in reform camp, and young Chen, at the age of nine, was threatened with imprisonment.

Da arrived in America at the age of 23 with $30 in his pocket, a bamboo flute, and a heart filled with hope. He attended Columbia University School of Law on a full scholarship, and upon graduating, worked for the Wall Street investment banking firm of Rothschilds, Inc.

Da published two memoirs (with one adapted for children as well) and four novels, two for children. In addition to writing, Da was a public speaker, a brush calligrapher and an accomplished flautist.

He died of lung cancer in December 2019 aged 57.



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Interview

Da Chen talks about how, growing up during the Cultural Revolution, he dreamed of escaping and becoming a warrior 'with mountains at his feet and the sky on his back'- and how these childhood memories formed the basis for Wandering Warrior, his first book for children.

What inspired you to become a writer?
Growing up in a society where freedom of speech was not allowed, I find it the ultimate luxury to be able to express your thoughts openly without having to worry about consequences. Writing, to me, is not only a noble calling but also a family tradition. My great-grandfather was a poet, so was my grandfather (in fact the titles of my two memoirs are from his poem), and my father was a playwright of traditional southern dramas. Writing is one of the four virtues of a Chinese noble man, along with being an accomplished calligrapher, chess player, and musician. I feel both humbled and proud to be able to continue the tradition of my forefathers.

Why did you choose to write for children after your success in writing for adults?
I write for children because they still believe. I write for children because they have the right to know. I write for children because they know a good story from a bad one, an authentic tale from a synthetic compilation.

How did you come up with the idea for Wandering Warrior, straying from the nonfiction genre of your other books?
Children have been gifted with a world of martial art magic in movies, but there is a dearth of written ...

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Books by this Author

Books by Da Chen at BookBrowse
My Last Empress jacket Brothers jacket Wandering Warrior jacket
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Read-Alikes

All the books below are recommended as read-alikes for Da Chen but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose read-alikes

  • Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

    Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

    Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is an award-winning and bestselling author, activist, and professor. Her work has been published in over fifty magazines, including The Atlantic and The New Yorker, and included in The Best American... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Wandering Warrior

    Try:
    The Conch Bearer
    by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

  • Lian Hearn

    Lian Hearn

    Lian Hearn is a pseudonym for Gillian Rubinstein, a well-known Australian writer of children's books and plays. She chose not to publish Tales of the Otori, (the series originally consisted of three books but she later added ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Wandering Warrior

    Try:
    Across the Nightingale Floor
    by Lian Hearn

We recommend 4 similar authors

View all 4 Read-Alikes

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