A community’s rituals and practices surrounding death are one of its foremost ways of making sense of itself and its relationship to the passage of time. Historical time, in particular, with its attendant social and political shifts, is most directly experienced and reckoned with through those whom time leaves behind, the men and women whose lives come to form that community’s past. In Songs for Dead Parents, distinguished anthropologist Erik Mueggler investigates death in a mountain community in Yunnan Province, which he studied over a period spanning two decades. Through evocative analyses of the community’s rituals, exchanges, laments, and chants, Mueggler shows how their way of thinking and feeling the passage of time and the loss of life is rooted in the landscape surrounding them and the raw materials it provides. These materials give new substance to the dead, as they transform from body to effigy to stone to text in a cycle of degeneration and regeneration that gives shape to the ongoing life of the community. In the wake of the disappearance of the socialist rituals that once gave people narrative structures with which to understand historical change, death rituals have become ways of coming to terms with that socialist past as well as ways of moving forward from it and creating new forms of meaning. What emerges from Mueggler’s book is a powerful analysis of a praxis and poetics of grief, one whose personal and historical dimensions are profoundly intertwined. Written in an accessible language for multiple audiences, Songs for Dead Parents will appeal to anthropologists, historians, scholars of modern China, and any reader interested in how a community grieves, mourns, and endures.