For two years before and after the 1948 Communist Revolution, David Kidd lived in Peking, where he married the daughter of an aristocratic Chinese family. "I used to hope," he writes, "that some bright young scholar on a research grant would write about us and our Chinese friends before it was too late and we were all dead and gone, folding into the darkness the wonder that had been our lives." Here Kidd himself brings that wonder to life.
Kidd's pieces have been a double illumination. Their intimate domestic lanterns shed light on the dark side of the moon and, exotic and informational interest aside, glow in their own skins, as art. They are simple, graceful, comic, mournful miniatures of an ominous catastrophe, the unprecedently swift death of a uniquely ancient civilization.
-- John Updike In the reader's eye, Kidd's story wavers between fact and fiction. It seems too good to be true, like the perfectly woven family sagas common to the great Chinese novels and Victorian fiction. But the climax, the unwritten final chapter of Peking Story, is firmly written in fact: the crumbling of an empire 4000 years old. To achieve this effect in less than 200 pages is astounding.
-- Alberto Manguel