Talk of the Stacks: Anchee Min

Pearl of China (Bloomsbury), Anchee Min's latest novel, is a fictional account of the life of Pearl S. Buck, the daughter of an American missionary who was raised in China and went on to win the Pulitzer Prize and the Nobel Prize in Literature. The tale is told from the point of view of Willow, Buck's childhood friend as imagined by Min, and chronicles their friendship against the backdrop of an increasingly tumultuous early- and mid-20th-century China. The pair is torn apart when the Boxer Rebellion arrives in their rural town, and later as the Cultural Revolution cuts China off from the outside world. Min's narrative is most fascinating as we watch her characters—especially the Christians converted by Buck's father—negotiate the conundrum that is Mao's China. Up becomes down and down becomes up as they attempt to hold on to their faith under the increasingly oppressive regime. Min, born and raised in Communist China, was forced to denounce Pearl S. Buck in school. The experience, it appears, only sparked curiosity about the woman who became Min's heroine. (Photo by Naishi Min)
Thu., April 29, 7 p.m., 2010

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