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Family Photos Can Change You

How one novelist reconnected with the ancestors she never met

The author’s great grandparents Viceroy Liu Ch’ang-yu, 1860, and his last concubine, circa 1910. Images courtesy of the author

Lucky for me, my father was a packrat. Dad spoke little about his childhood in China during the Warlord Era, but he kept suitcases full of artifacts, most of which only surfaced after his death in 2007. Among these mementos, I discovered photographs that swept me back…