Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Evelina Chao  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction Non-Fiction

Audience: Adult;

Born: 1949 in Chicago, Il

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-- Evelina Chao on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Evelina Chao was born in Chicago, Illinois and raised in Arlington, Virginia.

Biographical and Professional Information

Chao eventually chose music and playing the violin and viola as her profession, attending Oberlin College and the Juilliard School before joining the Amici Quartet, Indianapolis Symphony and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra where she is currently Assistant Principal Viola, she continually grappled with the issue of identity.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Gates of Grace
ISBN: 0446328448

Grand Central Pub. 1986

This chronicle of a young Chinese family that emigrates to the United States in 1949 follows Wong Kung-Chiao and his wife Mei-Yu as they try to make new lives amidst the poverty and animosities of Chinatown

Yeh Yeh's House: A Memoir
ISBN: 0312330774

St. Martin's Press. 2004

Growing up Chinese in Virginia in the Fifties, Evelina Chao's sense of historical or cultural context was colored by the images contained in her grandfather Yeh-Yeh's letters and news of his life as an eminent poet, philosopher, and theologian in Beijing. Her geologist father and biologist mother suffered a kind of cultural dyslexia in the American South, having fled Beijing after the Maoist Revolution in 1949. The young Evelina, foreign and isolated, believed that in China she would find the meaning of her life.

And then she found music. The rigors of training to become a professional classical musician seduced her into thinking she no longer required Yeh-Yeh's benediction, that her Chinese heritage was secondary. When Yeh-Yeh died at 92, she realized that her mythical notions of China had died with him. All that reminded her were her uncles and aunts who still lived in the family house in Beijing.

Accompanied by her mother, acting as her interpreter and all-around passport, she traveled to Beijing when China was undergoing rapid transformation following the Cultural Revolution in the early 1980s, two years before the Tiananmen uprising. Every trace of old China was being expunged, the ancient neighborhoods plowed under. Yeh-Yeh's House is a voyage of self-discovery and mother-daughter understanding set against the backdrop of a China that no longer exists.

Speaking Engagements

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