Though the storyline is epic, the storytelling is intimate, reflecting the real life of the book’s artist. Li Kunwu spent more than 30 years as a state artist for the Communist Party. He saw firsthand what was happening to his family, his neighbors, and his homeland during this extraordinary time. Working with Philippe Ôtié, the artist has created a memoir of self and state, a rich, very human account of a major historical moment with contemporary consequences. Mao said, “The masses are the real heroes,” but A Chinese Life shows those masses as real people.