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The Yan Family. A family at the center of one hundred years in Chinese history (Chez les Yan)



Original Language: French | 530 pp. | October 2017

2 Seas Represents: World rights excl. French, Chinese simplified & complex rights

Over 7,000 copies sold


Currently a banker responsible for Lazard in Greater China, she reigns with this book, the accounts of her personal history, and exorcises the past of China. — Le Monde

Majestic. Banker at Lazard, Yan Lan pulls the strings of business with the Chinese. — Le Point

Yan Lan is highly respected within the Chinese business community. — The New York Times

In continental China, the land of her Mandarin ancestors, imperial then ‘red’ – always close to power, shaken by the tremors of history but never defeated – Lan Yan welcomes and advises the biggest Chinese companies. — Le Point

Yan Lan, the Chinese banker who exorcises the Red Terror. — Le Monde

There is no room for revenge nor anger. Yan Lan is a pragmatist. — Libération

This pragmatic feminist moves the lines. — Le Journal du Dimanche

A remarkable book. Madame Figaro

With the Yans, we dive into the heart of our planet’s history. The very size of China requires us to consider it as a large part of our own history … that is oftentimes overlooked. — RTBF

A captivating account. […] China is brought vividly to life in this account. — L’Obs

We feel your fear of being a little girl in this book. It’s very moving. Your book is a page-turner, not only because we see your history running parallel to China’s, but also for the quotes at the beginning of each chapter. — RTS

Through the fascinating story of her family, Yan Lan recounts the incredible transformation of China from the early twentieth century to the present day.

The story of the Yan family is the story of the last hundred years in Chinese history.

Her grandfather worked closely with the nationalist Chiang Kai-shek before joining the communist cause and working as a secret agent for Zhou Enlai during the Second World War. Among his acts of glory, he uncovered information on the date of the German attack against the Soviet Union in 1941. But during the Cultural Revolution, he was thrown into prison and, unbeknown to the family, died eight months later.

Her father, a diplomat and translator of Mao into Russian, is the only living witness to the high-level discussions between Mao and Stalin, and then Mao and Khrouchtchev. He was incarcerated in the same prison as his father, in solitary confinement for seven and a half years, before being freed at the end of the Cultural Revolution and appointed minister and secretary of the Central Committee of the CPC.

Her mother, a brilliant diplomat, was accused of coming from a counter-revolutionary family and exiled to a re-educational labour camp where she lived for five years with her daughter.

Yan Lan recounts her childhood, torn apart by the Cultural Revolution and the folly of this period when large sections of the country’s intellectual, economic and political elite were annihilated.

In her early days she met all the powerful people in China: Zhou Enlai, the prime minister; Deng Xiaoping, at whose home, one summer, she learned to swim… But at nine years of age her young existence was torn apart when the Red Guards burst into the family home, despite their being the most loyal servants of the New China. The Yan family’s hellish descent endured until the death of Mao, when Lan was twenty years old.

With extraordinary determination, she then resolved to restore her family to greatness. She was among the first generation of students to study abroad. Afterwards, she joined a top international law firm in Paris before returning to China, where she contributed to establishing a legal system in line with the rule of law. China woke up, and Lan Yan contributes to the country’s development as the Head of Greater China at Lazard.

The little girl who was crushed by the Cultural Revolution has now become one of the most powerful businesswomen in China. The story of the Yan family is not over, and it is the story of China.

Selling points

  • The history of China told through a single family.
  • The author is one of the most powerful women in China.
  • The story of a little girl with a disrupted childhood who managed to succeed while remaining loyal to her family.