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Pearl of China

by: Anchee Min

New York NY: Bloomsbury USA 2010, $24.00, Hardbound
ISBN: 978-1-59691-697-5

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Summer Volume: 2011 Issue: 18(2) page(s): 19 and 20

This is a novel about Pearl S. Buck. It is quite different from Pearl Buck in China by Hilary Spurling reviewed in Volume 18(1) on pages 22 and 24. This author is Chinese, and she is from Shanghai where she grew up and was taught to hate Pearl Buck, as were all Chinese in her day.

She moved to the United States in her twenties, and finally was able to read The Good Earth. She says that never has any author, including the most respected ones she was taught about and read in China, written about peasants with such humanity, admiration, and affection. To her it was a revelation.

Her story is moving, even though or perhaps because it is not totally factual. If you know little to nothing about Pearl Buck, in this novel, you will learn about her life and writings. If you know a lot about this Nobel and Pulitzer prize-winning author, you will get a picture of her that fixes her writings into her life.

Willow--a fictitious friend in this novel, makes Pearl real and mesmerizing. Many details taken from her real life are said to be a composite of real friends, some actually interviewed. This tale inspires reading, or as in my case, rereading everything Pearl Buck penned. This novel is a gem about the woman whose unwavering love for China eventually led her to be hailed as a national heroine in China. Read about Pearl Buck 'of' China and 'in' China and you will understand why.

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