'The Lily Theater' is a strikingly original debut novel-an international literary sensation-based on the author's experience growing up in China during the Cultural Revolution. When twelve-year-old Lian Shui accompanies her mother to reeducation camp, no one imagines that Lian will receive an education. But detained along with her mother are some of China's greatest thinkers and they take an interest in young Lian. She in turn delivers lectures of her own to the creatures inhabiting a pond she dubs 'The Lily Theater'. These ideas inform her life when she returns to school and reunites with her best friend Kim, a peasant girl through whom Lian ultimately learns about the painful failings of Mao's teachings-and of life.