An engaging memoir.
Alex Ross, The New Yorker
Tian's adventures are driven by pluck, yuan (fate) and romance, and spun with a raconteur's skill, the narrative's chronological rush spiked with apt foreshadowing, flashbacks and endearing humor.... Most remarkable...is the way that Tian's concern for family and country, along with the details of his life in music, create a metaphor for an emerging self-awareness.
I was so completely taken with Hao Jiang Tian's memoir that I carried it halfway around world to finish reading it. Tian let me into his world, one filled with astonishing events and candid details. He has a natural storytelling voice in finding the strange and humorous ironies that link past and present. ALONG THE ROARING RIVER is as riveting as a well- told novel.
I was deeply moved by Tian's story, how he struggled to survive in the maelstrom of Mao's China and then how he toiled to succeed as an artist in America. Along the Roaring River is a rich, wonderful story that is exciting, passionate, and informative. As an abandoned kid forced to work in a factory during the Cultural Revolution, Tian had dreams of a better life. It is no surprise that music—like it did for me—took him to a higher place, and it was thrilling to read how music fueled this young man's wild imagination and provided a passion for living. His tales of survival as an artist in the U.S. and ultimately the world helped me to appreciate the challenges that Asians face as they take on the highest of Western art forms.
This book reads like a suspense novel.
Allan Miller, film maker, From Mao to Mozart, Isaac Stern in China; Itzhak Perlman in Shanghai; The Turandot Project
Tian's gripping and moving memoir spans many different worlds, discovering in each the common humanity which binds them together. This is a book which makes us want to sing!
David Henry Hwang, playwright, Tony Award winner, M. Butterfly
I have sung eight operas with Tian since his Met debut, and now I understand how the passion and strength in that beautiful voice were created in desperate and dangerous times. Tian has had a life worthy of an opera!
[N]othing can match the operatic Hao Jiang Tian backstory for sheer excitement; these memoirs ...provide a riveting read.
Tian's autobiography reveals a born storyteller.... [T]his is a thoroughly engrossing book, and, indeed, a unique one. Not to be missed.
...[A]n altogether delicious book.
...[So] riveting and filled with fascinating detail that it reads like a page-turning novel... Highly recommended.
"FROM MAO TO THE MET" AIRED ON PBS IN 2009-2010.
"Little in Tian's childhood suggested he would become the most celebrated Chinese-born opera singer on the international stage. His early exposure to music was largely limited to the drab propaganda blaring over public-address systems, such as the Cultural Revolution's omnipresent anthem, 'The East is Red.' As art solely served the Revolution's goals, anything else, particularly Western music, was condemned as "spiritually polluted." While he was supporting himself as a worker in the Beijing Boiler Factory, Tian joined the Factory's Thought Propaganda Team, cranking out ditties such as "Our Lives are Full of Sunshine" and often ditching work to carouse with his equally rowdy friends. He realized he was on a dead-end path but also recognized that traditional avenues of escape from the factory — such as the military or the university — were politically closed to him. After a stranger observed that the loud-mouthed young man had promise as an opera singer, Tian threw himself into voice lessons, ultimately landing a soloist slot at the prestigious Central Philharmonic Society. But his "hooliganism" also flourished: Tian was almost banished from the program for wiggling his hips, Elvis-style, while singing 'Jambalaya' ('son of a gun, we'll have big fun on the bayou') before the horrified citizens of Harbin," begins Todd B. Sollis in his glowing review of Along the Roaring River in Opera News.
The book chronicles Tian's truly wild, and truly inspiring ride from Mao to the Met--his transformation--beginning with a fateful encounter with Luciano Pavarotti, and encountering bias against Chinese singers along the way--from child of the Cultural Revolution to man of the world.