Orville Schell and Winston Lord: A Novel Approach to China
Play • 1 hr 8 min

In his debut novel, renowned China expert Orville Schell delves into the complexities of people whose lives have been historically upended by the tumult of political change, the pain of migration, and the separations of the Cold War that made it impossible to live in both worlds.

In moving from non-fiction to fiction, Schell's sweeping historical novel takes us on a journey from the rise of Mao Zedong in 1949 to the Tiananmen Square uprising in 1989, as a classical musician and his son are swept away by a relentless series of devastating events. Through their lives, we follow the fault line between the United States and China—a divide that at times has been narrow and easily crossed, while at other times perilously wide. At a time when the U.S.-China divide is once again widening, Schell’s fictional characters speak volumes about the agonies of separation that may yet again become a reality.

Join a unique discussion on U.S.-China relations (focusing on culture, music, religion and art as well as policy) with Schell and his longtime friend Ambassador Winston Lord, who served as Henry Kissinger’s main aide on his game-changing trip to China with President Richard Nixon in 1972 and subsequently became U.S. ambassador to China under President Reagan.

Part of our Good Lit Series, underwritten by the Bernard Osher Foundation.


Winston Lord

Former U.S. Ambassador to China; Former President, Council on Foreign Relations

Orville Schell

Arthur Ross Director, Center on U.S.-China Relations, Asia Society; Former Professor and Dean, University of California, Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism; Author, My Old Home: A Novel of Exile

In conversation with James Fallows

National Correspondent, The Atlantic

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are currently hosting all of our live programming via YouTube live stream. This program was recorded via video conference on February 16th, 2021 by the Commonwealth Club of California.

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