The Language of Light by Kathleen Brady


Two women navigate the cultural and political waters of 1980s China as they work to build a life together.


It’s 1982, and China has just barely begun to open to the West.

When Lu McLean sells all her possessions and leaves Los Angeles to study Mandarin Chinese at the Beijing Language Institute, she imagines a life of serious scholarship and an eventual job as a translator at the United Nations. On the night of her arrival, Lu meets the captivating, Ming, a Chinese teacher at the institute. Still recovering from a failed ten-year relationship, Lu has vowed never to give her heart away again.

But as Lu struggles to balance Beijing’s simple beauty with the confounding rigidity of ageless custom, her feelings for Ming deepen. She soon finds herself vacillating between letting herself love Ming and her escalating fears about the certain barriers that would prevent them from ever navigating a life together. Against the backdrop of China’s Spiritual Pollution and a tightening cultural climate, it becomes clear that Ming cannot leave—and Lu cannot stay indefinitely. Events soon force Lu—and Ming—to balance the love that binds them against the social and political forces that threaten to tear them apart.

The Language of Light seamlessly interweaves the expressive and timeless beauty of the Chinese language with the poignant tale of a profound love, inveighing against the oppressive climate of cultural and political change. 

KATHLEEN BRADY is a native Californian, though she spent three years living in Beijing, China. Her career has been varied, including stints in clinical psychology, journalism, healthcare, and various and sundry blue-collar jobs. As an author, she has published several freelance pieces in the Los Angeles Times. One of her short stories earned Honorable Mention in the Glimmer Train Short Story Award for New Writers. Kathleen has studied writing with poet Eloise Klein Healy and award-winning author Alice Bloch. She continues to workshop with novelist, memoirist, poet, and editor, Terry Wolverton. A graduate of Immaculate Heart College, Kathleen currently lives in Los Angeles.

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