China, 1957. Chairman Mao has declared a new openness in society: “Let a hundred flowers bloom; let a hundred schools of thought contend.” Many intellectuals fear it is only a trick, and Kai Ying’s husband, Sheng, a teacher, has promised not to jeopardize their safety or that of their young son, Tao. But one July morning, just before his sixth birthday, Tao watches helplessly as Sheng is dragged away for writing a letter criticizing the Communist Party and sent to a labor camp for “reeducation.”
A year later, still missing his father desperately, Tao climbs to the top of the hundred-year-old kapok tree in front of their home, wanting to see the mountain peaks in the distance. But Tao slips and tumbles thirty feet to the courtyard below, badly breaking his leg.
As Kai Ying struggles to hold her small family together in the face of this shattering reminder of her husband’s absence, other members of the household must face their own guilty secrets and strive to find peace in a world where the old sense of order is falling. Once again, Tsukiyama brings us a powerfully moving story of ordinary people facing extraordinary circumstances with grace and courage.
About Gail Tsukiyama
Gail Tsukiyama is the bestselling author of six previous novels, including The Street of a Thousand Blossoms, Women of the Silk and The Samurai’s Garden, as well as the recipient of the Academy of American Poets Award and the PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Literary Award. She lives in El Cerrito, California.
In 1957, Mao encouraged intellectuals to speak their minds in his “Hundred Flowers” proclamation, but by 1958 they are being rounded up for re-education. Sheng, a history teacher in a small southern city, has been arrested for sending a signed letter critical of the government to the premier’s office. Shipped to a labor camp 1,000 miles away, he leaves behind his wife, Kai Ying, an herbalist/healer, and their 7-year-old son, Tao, who live with Sheng’s aged father, Wei, a retired professor—the Lees have long been members of the educated bourgeoisie. These are stoic yet sensitive characters, filled with remorse for past mistakes and anxieties about the future they do not share with each other. They are also relatively well-off, with enough food and a large house, even after Sheng is taken away. As the novel opens, Tao falls out of a kapok tree in their garden, fracturing his leg. Although Tao faces typical boyhood obstacles, he mends physically and emotionally without much trouble (or real drama). Tao’s injury and recovery become an emotional outlet for his mother’s and grandfather’s reactions to Sheng’s incarceration. Kai Ying yearns for Sheng despite what she considers his foolhardy if morally upright stand, while Wei blames himself for letting Sheng go with the police when Wei actually wrote the letter (he and Sheng share the same formal name). Ultimately, Wei screws up his courage to find Sheng and has the liveliest adventure in the novel. Subplots involve two female victims of abuse: Suyin, a teenager raped by her stepfather, and Auntie Song, who survived her vicious husband. For all the delicacy of the prose, the novel substitutes moral clichés against abuse and authoritarianism for emotional energy. – Kirkus Reviews
Book World: Hope blooms in ‘A Hundred Flowers,’ by Gail Tsukiyama
The Washington Post Book Review – September 20, 2012 (Excerpt)
More than 50 years ago, in one of his most stunning acts of duplicity, Chairman Mao encouraged artists and intellectuals to offer ideas for the improvement of China. “Let a hundred flowers bloom,” Mao announced. “Let a hundred schools of thought contend.” That promising invitation was a thinly veiled ruse to weed out dissidents and “in the end, the Hundred Flowers Campaign had failed miserably. . . . All the counterrevolutionaries [were] arrested.”
Gail Tsukiyama’s gripping new novel, “A Hundred Flowers,” centers on a family in Guangzhou — the Lees — whose lives are torn apart by Mao’s deception. Sheng is a history teacher at the Guangzhou high school and father of young Tao. Sheng’s wife, Kai Ying, is extolled for her healing as a skilled herbalist. Auntie Song, a family friend, lives with them in a villa “in the Dongshan area . . . designed in the European style with high ceilings and columned balconies.” After the Communists came into power in 1949 and divided up the villas, “the grand villa was only a tired shell of what it once was.” [Read the full article...]
We are the only country that makes guns, including military-style assault weapons, available to anyone who wants to buy them. This is not freedom. It is a tyranny of death and destruction — a tyranny of which the National Rifle Association is proud. The Washington Post
FrogenYozurt.com may generate ad income and accept advertising/ads and links. Paid entries are marked as “Paid Articles.” Entries describing a product (book reviews, etc.) may contain descriptions provided by the manufacturer or other sources (Amazon.Com, etc.).
All entries marked as "Satire" may refer to actual persons or events, however, the content is of a satirical nature based on the writers' personal views and should not be taken seriously. All other entries reflect personal opinions on various topics.
All content on this website has been posted under the impression that they do not infringe any copyrights. However, if this site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner, we believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. Should you suspect a copyright infringement or any other legal issues with posts on this website, please contact the editor through the contact form as indicated on the top navigation bar, and we will remove the post immediately. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.