Author: Yang-May Ooi
Type of Book: eBook
Length: 320 pages
Hardcover Release Date: April 1, 2016
Publisher: Urbane Publications
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
~ I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This book is truly unique in that it is both a book and a work of performance art rolled into one.
FROM THE BOOK’S INTRODUCTION:
“The original story of BOUND FEET BLUES was conceived as a solo performance piece for the stage, as you will see when you dive into this book. The script runs for an hour which means there was not enough space for all the stories I wanted to tell. This book therefore tells the stories behind the story in the show.”
“While this book and the show are intended as a memoir, they are not a strict factual recording of events in my life. Neither are they fiction. Perhaps you might best think of them as a dramatized memoir or creative work inspired by true events.”
“But for me now, in writing this book, in telling these stories, I have to make a choice to move beyond those kinds of cliches. To write about not just the funny and brave and glittering things that show me in a good light, but also those things that are hard for me to talk about – my loneliness and shame and anger and sadness. To express those things that are without words, that live in that quiet unspoken place and to let you see my fragility as well as my strength, my failings as well as my triumphs”
This book follows the author’s life journey. The above paragraph pretty well sums up what a good biography should be.
How does a young, timid Malaysian girl end up attending a prestigious university in England?
How does a twenty three year old law clerk with a nervous stutter who avoided socializing end up on stage doing solo performance art in front of a live audience at the age of fifty?
You will need to read BOUND FEET BLUES to find out the answers.
I have to admit that the title of this book actually threw me off. Even though I had read the official synopsis, I thought this book would contain more ancient history and less modern biography.
I have a fondness for historic fiction that takes place in the ancient Asian empires. This was probably brought on by reading James Clavell’s “Tai-Pan” and “Shogun” in my youth. The ancient custom of ‘foot-binding’ has both fascinated and horrified me for more years than I can remember.
There was some information about “The Golden Lotus” but since I expected to read more about this barbaric practice and about how it had impacted the author’s family, you would think that I would have disappointed with this book. However, even though it was not what I expected, I found myself drawn into the author’s world and became intensely interested. She does a terrific job of explaining the process of foot-binding. “It was an irreversible process that belied the dainty, gorgeously embroidered slippers that the women always wore. Beneath the beauty and the delicacy was an unspeakable and relentless violence.”
I loved the fact that the author has included multiple photographs throughout the book. I believe that the inclusion of these photos increases the reader’s immersion into the story. It felt almost like sitting around the dining room table at a friend’s house and having them pull out their personal photo album after sharing a great meal. It is like having an unedited glimpse into the author’s private life.
This book is very much worthy of a 4 out of 5 Stars rating. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
To see the official website of the performance art production of Bound Feet Blues visit:
To visit the official website of the author and the book visit: https://boundfeetblues.wordpress.com/
QUOTES I LIKED:
“In the shadows of that moonlit night, I again let another sliver of myself slip away like a ghost.”
“It’s strange and fascinating to imagine your parents not as your parents but as young, carefree individuals falling in love and hanging out with their friends.”
“We are all light and dark, brave heroes and cowards, loving and mean, vain and generous, angry and compassionate, ashamed and accepted, funny and wise, broken and whole.”
LINKS TO THE BOOK:
2 page author interview with great photos :
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Her first novel The Flame Tree topped the Malaysian bestseller charts and was closely followed by Mindgame, possibly the first – and only – Malaysian lesbian thriller (both published by Hodder & Stoughton, now re-issued by Monsoon). She is the co-author of International Communications Strategy, which was nominated for the FT Goldman Sachs Book Award. Her TEDx talk Rebel Heart: How Small Acts of Rebellion Can Create Powerful Change was described as “electrifying” and “one of the best and most moving talks at a TEDx event”.
Yang-May’s unconventional memoir Bound Feet Blues – A Life Told in Shoes tells the stories behind the story of her solo theatre piece of the same name. Bound Feet Blues, the story performance, has been described by reviewers as “powerful”, “engaging, eye-opening, funny and moving” and “beautifully performed and directed”.