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Topic: Chinese Fiction Books

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Subject: Chinese Fiction Books
Date Posted: 11/11/2011 11:25 AM ET
Member Since: 2/2/2010
Posts: 1,207
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What historical fiction set in or around China would you recommend?  I just finished The Concubine’s Daughter.  And I loved The Good Earth.  What should I look for next?  I haven’t read any of Lisa See's books yet.

Date Posted: 11/11/2011 12:12 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
Posts: 9,178
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Margaret, We read Genghis Birth of an Empire by Conn Iggulden this year as a read along.  I think many of us were not sure if we would like it, but I have to say that it was one of the best books I read this year.  IIRC most of us thought it was very good. There are I believe 4 in the series.  I only read 3 myself. 

Date Posted: 11/11/2011 7:39 PM ET
Member Since: 7/15/2008
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Emma Drummond/Elizabeth Darrell has a couple, but while the main setting is China the focus is more on British characters with Chinese as secondary.

Bridge of a Hundred Dragons

The Rice Dragon (also published as Dragon of Destiny)

Jade Alliance (under the Elizabeth Darrell name)


Bonnie (LoveNE) - ,
Date Posted: 11/12/2011 10:39 AM ET
Member Since: 2/17/2007
Posts: 5,982
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I second the Genghis motion!!!!

Date Posted: 11/12/2011 3:17 PM ET
Member Since: 7/7/2007
Posts: 4,815
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If you'd like to browse, here's the link for the books tagged "China", as taken from our list in the sticky thread.

I enjoyed Pavilion of Women, also by Pearl Buck.  You might also look at Gail Tsukiyama's works.

Date Posted: 11/12/2011 3:41 PM ET
Member Since: 8/31/2007
Posts: 482
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Definitely get on Lisa See. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is one of my favorites. If you've seen the movie (which I just did a few days ago) the book is NOTHING like the movie. The movie was TERRIBLE. Oh my god. Anyway, sorry, getting off on a ranty tangent.

But Snow Flower is an excellent book. I like really anything Lisa See but Shanghai Girls not the best place to start with her, it's not her best. And personally I loved Peony in Love but I know some others didn't.

In addition, I liked (I've read a fair amount of Asian fiction)...


Color of the Sea by John Hamamura

The Commoner by John Burnham Schwartz


The Calligrapher's Daughter: A Novel by Eugenia Kim (this one really taught me a lot - had no clue of how brutal the Japanese were to the Koreans during the Japanese occupation of Korea)

Date Posted: 11/12/2011 4:14 PM ET
Member Since: 8/12/2005
Posts: 809
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I have heard good things about Pearl Buck's East Wind, West Wind. I just ordered it myself from Amazon. wink

I am one of those who adored Peony in Love.

I have long been a fan of Amy Tan's work. Her characters are contemporary, but she often weaves China's past into her stories. I loved The Joy Luck Club, which entwines the stories of mothers born in China with those of their American-born daughters.

Alice J. (ASJ) - ,
Date Posted: 11/14/2011 11:35 AM ET
Member Since: 5/13/2009
Posts: 43,192
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There is a good historical mystery series set in China

The Chinese Bell Murders [Judge Dee, Bk 1]

Date Posted: 11/14/2011 3:10 PM ET
Member Since: 7/13/2005
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Pearl Buck wrote a lot more books than the Good Earth.  Have you read its two sequels?  They are Sons and A House Divided.  The complete trilogy is called House of Earth.  She was a very prolific writer in her lifetime and while the majority of her work is set in China, where she grew up, she also has some books set in Korea, India, Japan and America.  Most of her books are OOP but you may find sme here at PBS, in the library, UBS or on Ebay or Half.com.

What I do not recommend is bothering with the movies made form her books.  No slight intended to the late Ms. Buck, but these moves were made in the bad old un-PC days when ethnic minorities were never cast as the lead even in movies about that natinality.  So they tried to make up white actors to play the leads and it looked ridiculous.  In Dragon Seed, which took place in Nanking during the Japanese invasion, Katharine Hepburn was the female lead.  Not only did she not make a very authentic Chinese woman, the sets were cheap and cheesy looking.

Date Posted: 11/14/2011 3:46 PM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2007
Posts: 2,513
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It's actually non-fiction, but I read "Wild Swans" by Jung Chang for book club, and found it fascinating. 

Date Posted: 11/14/2011 7:25 PM ET
Member Since: 2/2/2010
Posts: 1,207
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Thanks for all the tips.  I have ordered a few of these, and some more of Pearl Bucks, and I just started Snow Flower and the Secret Fan today, it has been on my TBR for awhile.

Thanks for all the ideas!

Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 11/19/2011 8:04 AM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
Posts: 3,067
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The only Pearl S Buck book i have read is the Big Wave. It is a short book, but very good.

Dont know if you would be interested, but there are two really good books set in 19th century Japan by Takashi Matsuoka. The first is called Cloud of Sparrows and its sequel is Autumn Bridge. Both very well written.

Date Posted: 11/19/2011 10:59 AM ET
Member Since: 1/24/2009
Posts: 9,499
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I liked The Russian Concubine by Kate Furnivall.


Date Posted: 11/23/2011 7:05 PM ET
Member Since: 6/23/2010
Posts: 148
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I second Snow Flower and the Secret Fan which is one of my favorite books.  I've ordered several copies from this site to pass on to friends.  My husband calls it Sun Flower and the Ceiling Fan =) He read it too and liked it. Debbie H.