About the Book
A Daughter Remembers is a powerful, intense story of a daughter
coming to terms with her parents' separation and their long-distance
Left behind in war-torn China when her husband went to work in the United States, Li Lien-fung's mother lived with her in-laws the way a
Chinese wife traditionally did. When her husband sent back his savings
for her to join him, her mother-in-law decreed that the money be used to
send Thirteenth Uncle, and then Fourteen's Uncle, to the U.S. After two
such unfruitful remittances, her husband sent no more money because by
then he had acquired a new wife and family in America.
Li Lien-fung's father, Dr. Li Kuo-ching, came from a peasant family in
Hunan and rose to become a brilliant engineer and eventually a wealthy
business man in New York. Her mother, Luo Bu-ge, was from the landed
gentry, and graduated top of her class in Hunan's first high School for
Girls. They were supposed to be an ideal match for the New China of
1911. Why then did her father abandon her mother in China, and marry
another woman in New York? Or did he remain loyal to his first wife, and
only take on a concubine?
This book, which Li Luen-fung originally wrote in Chinese and then
translated to English herself, is her attempt to piece together the
fragments of their lives, and how it has impacted her.
About the Author
Born in Shanghai in 1923, Li Luen-fung grew up within an extended
family, with a loving mother and an absent father. From childhood, she
spoke the Hunanese dialect at home, Shanghainese on the streets outside,
and Mandarin in school. Even at the tender age of thirteen, she showed
literary promise, as her essay about walking to school was included in Mao
Dun's groundbreaking book, One Day in China, a collection of essays
from all China.
In 1937, during the Japanese invasion of Shanghai, she and her family
moved back to their home province of Hunan, where she attended Zhounan
Girl's Middle School for a year before relocating to Hong Kong with her
mother. There she finished High School and enrolled in Lingnan
University. In 1940 she left her mother, who returned to live in
Shanghai, to study at Mills College in Californian and then at Cornell
University in Ithaca, New York, graduating with a BA in Chemistry and an
MA in English Literature. It was during this period in the U.S. that
she reconnected with her father in New York, and grudgingly grew to
understand and love him.
She married Cornell schoolmate Ho Rih-hwa in 1946, and shortly
afterwards they were sent by her father's company, Wah Chang, to work in
Burma and then in Bangkok. Lien-fung was instrumental in starting up
and operating several factories making modified starch from Tapioca in
In the early 1970's, Lien-fung and her family settled in Singapore,
where her husband had been born and where most of his relatives still
lived. It was within the bilingual culture of Singapore that Lien-fung's
writing found an eager audience. Always a prolific but private writer,
Lien-fung began writing a weekly English-Chinese column for the Straits
Times, "Bamboo Green", which spanned a total of eleven years. Among her
books in English are A Joss Stick for My Mother, The Sword has Two
Edges, Only a Sandpiper and Burning at the Red Cliffs.
This book, A Daughter Remembers, is her own translation of her memoirs in Chinese, Lian Pian Ling Zhi.