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A Musical Ode To A 'Martyr In Mao’s China'

Cover of "Blood Letters" book
Basic Books

Lin Zhao was a poet and journalist who was arrested as a political dissident during the Mao Zedong regime in China. She stands as the only known Chinese citizen to have openly and steadily opposed Mao’s communism, an opposition rooted in her Christian faith. After her arrest, she dedicated her time in prison to writing letters and poems, sometimes in her own blood, in opposition of the regime.

The first non-fiction retelling of her story is captured in Duke professor Xi Lian’s book: “Blood Letters: The Untold Story of Lin Zhao, A Martyr in Mao’s China” (Basic Books/ 2018). That book has since inspired the musical composition “Elegy,” from composer Lu Pei, which will make its world premiere in North Carolina this Friday, March 29 at Duke University’s Goodson Chapel.

Host Frank Stasio speaks with Xi Lian, author and professor of world Christianity at Duke Divinity School, and Jeremy Begbie, professor of theology at Duke Divinity School who will perform the piece on piano, along with three members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. 

Laura Pellicer is a digital reporter with WUNC’s small but intrepid digital news team.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.