Pearl of China: A Novel Review

Pearl of China: A Novel
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I'm stuck up when it comes to books. I only buy sure fire classics--after all there are so many of them which never disappoint--and other books that I am confident will be a great read. But once in a while I try and buy a book by an author I've never heard of if the reading of a random page or two in the bookstore grabs me. The latter was the case with Anchee Min's first book, Red Azalea with the added draw that it had a gold sticker on it saying it had won some notable prize and been signed by the author. I am the least likely to discover the next great author of timeless classics, but this time I may have gotten lucky.
How good is Red Azalea that it prompted me to read this, her third book about fifteen years later? After enjoying Red Azalea I lent it (which I rarely do) to a friend of mine who was studying at Boston University. The next day, when I visited her, as soon as I opened the door she threw it at me.
"Damn you!" She yelled. "I was up all night reading that book! I couldn't put it down until I was finished despite all the work I had to do! Get it out of here!"
Red Azalea being her first book, having learned English only six years earlier, and a memoir, I thought maybe it was just that her personal story was so rivetting and that maybe she had a lot of help in writing it, but Pearl of China proves that Anchee Min is a great storyteller, period.
In this book, she tells the story of Pearl Buck, who was the child of Christian missionary parents spending her childhood in China and an activist who was more familiar, loving, and patriotic of her second heritage in Asia than she was of her native one. I leave it to you to look up who Pearl Buck was on Wikipedia or whatever your favorite resource may be, but for the purposes of this review I will only say that Anchee Min tells her story in a way just as vivid as she did her own story in Red Azalea.
BOTTOM LINE: I ended up writing an essay for a class at Harvard comparing Anchee Min to other great Chinese-American Female Authors: Amy Tan and Maxine Hong Kingston. (I'm not Asian by the way, but I have lived in Asia). But I have to say this is great literature on its own, not simply within the genre of Asian-American Literature or as a work by a female author. It's a great book by an author who has written other great books, and readers should be pleased with themselves to have discovered her a such an early stage in her writing career.
Anchee Min is turning out to be one of my favorite authors, which is shocking because all my other favorite authors are long since dead writers of timeless classics of literature.
Overall, I love stories based on actual historical events and places, that take you to another place, culture, and time. And this book does that very effectively.
Whether you're a lover of great literature, of China, or of history and historical fiction, I'm sure you will love this book.Pearl of China: A Novel Overview

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