10 Must-Read Historical Fiction Books About China

10 Must-Read Historical Fiction Books About China

These excellent works of fiction detail China’s vast landscape, ancient culture, and fascinating history. You will want to place on your TBR list all 10 of these must-read historical fiction books about China.

1. To Live by Yu Hua

“From the author of Brothers and China in Ten Words: this celebrated contemporary classic of Chinese literature was also adapted for film by Zhang Yimou. This searing novel, originally banned in China but later named one of that nation’s most influential books, portrays one man’s transformation from the spoiled son of a landlord to a kindhearted peasant. After squandering his family’s fortune in gambling dens and brothels, the young, deeply penitent Fugui settles down to do the honest work of a farmer. Forced by the Nationalist Army to leave behind his family, he witnesses the horrors and privations of the Civil War, only to return years later to face a string of hardships brought on by the ravages of the Cultural Revolution. Left with an ox as the companion of his final years, Fugui stands as a model of gritty authenticity, buoyed by his appreciation for life in this narrative of humbling power.”

2. Red Sorghum by Mo Yan

“Spanning three generations, this novel of family and myth is told through a series of flashbacks that depict events of staggering horror set against a landscape of gemlike beauty as the Chinese battle both the Japanese invaders and each other in the turbulent 1930s.”

3. Wings of a Flying Tiger by Iris Yang

“World War Two. Japanese occupied China. One cousin’s courage, another’s determination to help a wounded American pilot. In the summer of 1942, Danny Hardy bails out of his fighter plane into a remote region of western China. With multiple injuries, malaria, and Japanese troops searching for him, the American pilot’s odds of survival are slim. Jasmine Bai, an art student who had been saved by Americans during the notorious Nanking Massacre, seems an unlikely heroine to rescue the wounded Flying Tiger. Daisy Bai, Jasmine’s younger cousin, also falls in love with the courageous American. With the help of Daisy’s brother, an entire village opens its arms to heal a Flying Tiger with injured wings, but as a result of their charity the serenity of their community is forever shattered. Love, sacrifice, kindness, and bravery all play a part in this heroic tale that takes place during one of the darkest hours of Chinese history.”

4. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is a brilliantly realistic journey back to an era of Chinese history that is as deeply moving as it is sorrowful. With the period detail and deep resonance of Memoirs of a Geisha, this lyrical and emotionally charged novel delves into one of the most mysterious of human relationships: female friendship.”

5. Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

“Shanghai, 1937. Pearl and May are two sisters from a bourgeois family. Though their personalities are very different – Pearl is a Dragon sign, strong and stubborn, while May is a true Sheep, adorable and placid – they are inseparable best friends. Both are beautiful, modern and living a carefree life … until the day their father tells them that he has gambled away the family’s wealth, and that in order to repay his debts he must sell the girls as wives to two ‘Gold Mountain’ men: Americans. As Japanese bombs fall on their beloved city, the two sisters set out on the journey of a lifetime, one that will take them through the villages of southern China, in and out of the clutches of brutal soldiers, and even across the ocean, through the humiliation of an anti-Chinese detention centre to a new, married life in Los Angeles’s Chinatown. Here they begin a fresh chapter, despite the racial discrimination and anti-Communist paranoia, because now they have something to strive for: a young, American-born daughter, Joy. Along the way there are terrible sacrifices, impossible choices and one devastating, life-changing secret, but through it all the two heroines of this astounding new novel by Lisa See hold fast to who they are – Shanghai girls.”

6. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

“In 1949 four Chinese women, recent immigrants to San Francisco, meet weekly to play mahjong and tell stories of what they left behind in China. United in loss and new hope for their daughters’ futures, they call themselves the Joy Luck Club. Their daughters, who have never heard these stories, think their mothers’ advice is irrelevant to their modern American lives – until their own inner crises reveal how much they’ve unknowingly inherited of their mothers’ pasts.”

7. The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan

“Ruth Young and her widowed mother have always had a difficult relationship. But when she discovers writings that vividly describe her mother’s tumultuous life growing up in China, Ruth discovers a side of LuLing that she never knew existed. Transported to a backwoods village known as Immortal Heart, Ruth learns of secrets passed along by a mute nursemaid, Precious Auntie; of a cave where dragon bones are mined; of the crumbling ravine known as the End of the World; and of the curse that LuLing believes she released through betrayal. Within the calligraphied pages awaits the truth about a mother’s heart, secrets she cannot tell her daughter, yet hopes she will never forget… Conjuring the pain of broken dreams and the power of myths, The Bonesetter’s Daughter is an excavation of the human spirit: the past, its deepest wounds, its most profound hopes.”

8. The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan

“Spanning fifty years and two continents, ‘The Valley of Amazement’ dramatises the collapse of China’s imperial dynasty and the secret life of the courtesan house. Unfolding old family secrets, this novel returns readers to the compelling territory of ‘The Joy Luck Club’. With her characteristic wisdom, grace and humour, she conjures a story of the inheritance of love, its mysteries and betrayals, and its illusions and truths.”

9. Lust: Caution by Eileen Chang

“In the midst of the Japanese occupation of China and Hong Kong, two lives become intertwined: Wong Chia Chi, a young student active in the resistance, and Mr. Yee, a powerful political figure who works for the Japanese occupational government. As these two move deftly between Shanghai’s tea parties and secret interrogations, they become embroiled in the complicated politics of wartime—and in a mutual attraction that may be more than what they expected. Written in lush, lavish prose, and with the tension of a political thriller, Lust, Caution brings 1940s Shanghai artfully to life even as it limns the erotic pulse of a doomed love affair.”

10. The Russian Concubine by Kate Furnivall

“Junchow, China, 1928. Lydia Ivanova was among the Russian elite until the Bolsheviks revolutions forced her to flee to China with her mother. But survival is hard. Lydia has a fierce spirit. Nothing can dim it, not even the foul waters of the Peiho River. Into the river’s grime bodies are tossed – those of thieves and Communists alike. A reminder that every time Lydia steals from someone to feed herself and her mother, she takes her life into her own hands. Even though mother and daughter live in the Whites-only settlement, no walls can keep Lydia in as she escapes to meet her lover, Chang An Lo. But Chang has enemies who are hunting him down, and their all-consuming love can only mean danger for them both . . .”

1 comment
BOOKGLOW
BOOKGLOW
ADMINISTRATOR
PROFILE

Posts Carousel

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

1 Comment

Latest Posts

Most Commented

Featured Videos

WINGS OF A FLYING TIGER by Iris Yang