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Nancy | Nianci
A Story of Wars
by Bian An

Nancy | Nianci is a fast-moving novel of war, complex love, fractured family, rebellion against tradition—and choices that cannot be undone.
China is under ferocious attack by Japan, and for Nianci Zhou, a college student in Peking who has demonstrated against Japan, danger increases by the day. When she falls for a young American, bitter race issues emerge.
Breaking from family, Nianci casts her lot with America. She chooses freedom, or so she thinks.
But then she finds herself trapped, completely cut off from her family by the cataclysmic rupture between China and America in 1949. What does it mean to be an American in this time?

Available in Hardback, Paperback and eBook formats.


Come from Nowhere
A Memoir in Two Halves
Bian An { Ann Bennett Spence }

In memoir, they say the value is not just in the words but in the author’s identity. What claim does the writer have, what claim on this story involving China? Are these just the words of an American with some exotic background? Or of a half-Chinese whose roots are breaking through the western culture paved over top? Whether Chinese or American or both, I lived this story. You can decide for yourself.
I was born Bian An to a Chinese mother and an American father. They’d met as college students in Beijing during the invasion of China by Japan. Then came World War II, the Chinese civil war, and later the Vietnam War. In these pages I bridge the two halves of my upbringing, to reach my mother’s American descendants, my children, who were too young to know their Chinese grandmother, and who live wholly American. This bridge is complex and time is short.

Available in Hardback, Paperback and eBook formats.



“Couldn’t put it down, read it in two sittings.
Perspectives that no one else has, and a storyteller’s ability to tell them.”
—Craig Burr, Co-founder of Burr, Egan & Deleage

“A saga for the ages. It illuminates a tragic period in history that should be better understood.”
—Julie J. Kidd, President, Endeavor Foundation

“Loved it. A very powerful book. The story is a remarkable one; in fact,
I think you have just scratched the surface.”
—Richard Chow, author, formerly head of EnergyWorks Asia
“This deeply moving book is at the intersection of history and biography.
The story of the daughter of a distinguished Beijing family is set against the horror of the
Japanese invasion of China and the civil war that followed.”
—Diana Lary, Director, Centre of Chinese Research, University of British Columbia

“An extraordinary read! Dramatically changed my perspective on those years of war in China.”
—David deWilde, Founder, Chartwell Partners

“Fast-paced and engaging, this takes us back to Japan’s invasion of China which led to Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima. Granddaughter of China’s renowned Liang Qichao, Nancy/Nianci gives a raw and fresh perspective on love, freedom, and sacrifice.”
—Nora Wu, formerly Vice-Chair, PwC International

“I’m delighted that it’s now possible for the world to see this story. A narrative derived from the writings of someone who lived through the experience is the most valuable kind of history.”
—Fenrong Liu, Professor, Department of Philosophy, Tsinghua University
About the Author


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Bian An (卞 安) is the pen name of Ann Bennett Spence, a writer who tells stories of America, Asia, and also elements of the Asian-American experience. She wrote the novel titled Nancy Nianci: A Story of Wars to describe her mother’s forced departure from wartime China and her experience in America as a Chinese immigrant. She also edited and provided Preface and footnotes for Zhou Nianci’s book, Time to Change Your Vision: A Novel of Modern China, written under the pen name “Gui”.

An(n) is influenced by memories of Asia and by a Chinese mother who was an extraordinary story-teller and writer who tried to bring her own unique background to American readers. Beyond early childhood and as a young adult, for political reasons, An(n) never knew her Chinese family. They were lost to her. Her American family, in contrast, were an important part of her upbringing. Through this side of her family, she’s been deeply influenced by a complex set of histories firmly rooted in the American experience.


Having completed two years as a DCI Fellow (at the Distinguished Careers Institute of Stanford University) which enabled her to research her historical novel, An(n) continues to write and publish short stories and flash fiction as well as memoir. She lives in Exeter NH and Boston, with her husband Richard Bowers. Her three adult children live in various parts of the New York City area, where she visits often.

More Background

Bian An came to writing both early and late. As a child in Nanjing and Taipei, she was taught to write Chinese characters on the red-grid hanzi paper used in Chinese schools. From earliest memory, she began to learn stories about China and her Chinese forebears, told by her mother Zhou Nianci. Her father, Josiah Bennett, was an American, and thus Bian An’s maiden name was Ann Bennett. Her parents had intended to raise their children in China, but politics and war intervened, and they were unable to. Instead, they lived in other parts of the world – Washington DC, Tel Aviv, and Lagos, as well as Nanjing and Taipei. An(n) spent two years at a small boarding school before entering Wellesley College. When she married Michael Spence at 22, Ann Spence became the name she’s known by in everyday matters. As Ann Spence, she went on to a graduate degree from Harvard University in East Asian studies.


After business school, An(n) used the name Ann Bennett Spence. While specializing in endowment governance and strategic issues at nonprofit organizations, she wrote many reports for trustees and others in higher education, foundations, museums, and other nonprofit organizations. Some of her written reports became “classics” of their time and place, sought after by trustees.


It was only when she turned her attention to creative writing, as distinct from expository writing, that she decided to use a pen name, Bian An – her original and childhood name. With this pen name, she returns often to her roots in China and other countries, other times.

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