Yale Club of Hong Kong: “Song of Praise for a Flower” Meet the Author – Charlene Chu (Yale MBA/MA)

Meet the Author

Evening Presentation
Drinks Reception 6:30pm
Presentation 7:00pm
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For nearly two decades, a family manuscript lay hidden in a Chinese bank vault until a long-lost cousin from America inspired the 92-year-old author, Fengxian Chu to unearth it. Fengxian’s story begins in the 1920s in an idyllic home in the heart of China’s rice country. Her life is a struggle from the start. At a young age, she defies foot-binding and an arranged marriage and sneaks away from home to attend school. Her young adulthood is thrown into turmoil when the Japanese invade and ransack her village. Later her family is driven to starvation when Mao Zedong’s Communist Party seizes power and her husband is branded a ‘bad element’. The book traces a century of Chinese history through the experiences of Fengxian and her family, from the dark years of World War II and China’s civil war to the tragic Great Leap Forward, Cultural Revolution and beyond. It is a window into a faraway world, a sweeping epic about China’s tumultuous transformation and a harrowing yet ultimately uplifting story of a remarkable woman. Join co-author of Song of Praise for a Flower, Charlene Chu as she discusses her unearthing of this hidden family manuscript.

Fengxian Chu was raised in Hunan Province, China, spent most of her life living and working on a farm. She briefly attended college, but her education was interrupted when the Japanese army invaded her village in the 1940s. A writer and poet from a young age, she is unique among her generation of rural Chinese women, the majority of whom never attended school and are illiterate. Song of Praise for a Flower is Fengxian’s first work to be published, and among the only known first-person accounts from a woman of her generation about life during China’s turbulent past century. Now in her 90s, she enjoys gardening and spending time with her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. She resides in Shenzhen, China.


charlene chu mug

Charlene Chu, Fengxian’s first cousin, grew up in the United States and wrote the English rendering of Song of Praise for a Flower. A financial analyst well-known for her work on China’s economy and financial sector, she is quoted widely in the Wall Street Journal, Financial TimesBloomberg, Business Insider and other media outlets. She holds an MBA and MA in International Relations from Yale University. Song of Praise for a Flower is her first book. Charlene splits her time between Washington, DC and Hong Kong.