22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Ying Chang Compestine

Portrait Ying Chang Compestine
© Ben Krantz

The Chinese-American author Ying Chang Compestine was born in 1963 in Wuhan in the People’s Republic of China and grew up during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Her family was considered »bourgeois«, a socio-economic class shunned by the new government, so the Red Guard seized her family’s belongings and jailed her father twice. Because of her family’s difficulties, Compestine was sent to live with her grandparents. Compestine earned a degree in English and American literature and taught English in China. She also worked as an interpreter for China’s Bureau of Seismology. After moving to the US, she graduated with a Master’s degree in Sociology from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 1990.
Compestine began writing after her son was born, first publishing the cookbook, »Secrets of Fat-Free Chinese Cooking« (1997). She began writing children’s books after her parents passed away because she missed China and her family. Since then she has written numerous children’s books. She wrote, »Secrets of The Terra Cotta Soldier« (2014) with her son, Vinson. Her most recent publication, »The Chinese Emperor’s New Clothes« (2018) tells the story of the boy emperor Ming Da. Ming Da is only nine years old when he becomes the emperor of China, and his three adult advisors take advantage of him by stealing rice, gold, and precious stones from his treasury. But Ming has a plan. With the help of his tailors, he comes up with a clever idea to outsmart his devious advisors: He asks his tailors to make »magical« new clothes for him. Anyone who is honest, the young emperor explains, will see the clothes’ true splendor, but anyone who is dishonest will see only burlap sacks. The emperor dons a burlap sack, and the ministers can’t help but fall for his cunning trick. Compestine’s book »Revolution is Not a Dinner Party« (2007) is based on her life growing up during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Nine-year-old Ling has a happy life. Her parents are both doctors who work at the best hospital in Wuhan. Her father teaches her English and together they listen to Voice of America every evening on the radio. But when one of Mao’s political officers moves into a room in their apartment, Ling begins to witness the gradual disintegration of her world. »Revolution is Not a Dinner Party« has received over thirty international awards and has been included in school syllabi globally.
In addition to her books, Compestine hosted a twenty-episode cooking show on the Chinese-language Phoenix North America Chinese Channel. She was a food editor for Martha Stewart’s »Body + Soul« magazine and was a spokeswoman for Nestlé and Celestial Seasonings. Ying is a sought-after speaker and has lectured at various institutions. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.