Chinese New Year is tomorrow (Tuesday 5th February) and it’s the Year of the Pig!
Whilst I don’t celebrate Chinese New Year to its full extent, my best friend is Chinese and when we lived together we had meals and small celebrations and I’d like to continue that tradition in my own bookish way!
So here are 4 books that I’ve selected to appeal to different types of readers to help get you in the mood for Chinese New Year!
Adult fiction, dark and poignant
The Noodle Maker – Ma Jian (written and set in china, with Chinese characters)
Every week, a writer of political propaganda and a professional blood donor meet for dinner. They are unlikely friends – one of them tortured by his ‘art’, the other fat and wealthy from the earthy business of providing spare blood for the citizens of China.
Over the course of one especially gastronomic evening, the writer starts to complain about his latest Party commission: the story of an ordinary soldier who sacrifices his life to the revolutionary cause. This is not the novel he wants to write, he tells his friend. Inside his head lives an unwritten book about the people he knows or sees everyday on the streets – people who lives are far more representative of the world in which he lives…
Adult fiction, modern classic
The Painted Veil – W. Somerset Maugham (written by a British writer, set in China predominantly and also Britain)
Kitty Fane is the beautiful but shallow wife of Walter, a bacteriologist stationed in Hong Kong. Unsatisfied by her marriage, she starts an affair with charming, attractive and exciting Charles Townsend. But when Walter discovers her deception, he exacts a strange and terrible vengeance: Kitty must accompany him to his new posting in remote mainland China, where a cholera epidemic rages…
First published to a storm of protest, The Painted Veil is a classic story of a woman’s spiritual awakening.
Adult fiction, modern contemporary
The Joy Luck Club – Amy Tan (written by US born Chinese-American writer, set in the USA)
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.
Young adult fiction, fantasy/sci-fi
Cinder – Marissa Meyer (written by American author, set in a fictional, futuristic China/Earth)
Cinder, a gifted mechanic in New Beijing, is also a cyborg. She’s reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s sudden illness. But when her life becomes entwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she finds herself at the centre of a violent struggle between the desires of an evil queen – and a dangerous temptation.
Cinder is caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal. Now she must uncover secrets about her mysterious past in order to protect Earth’s future.
If you’d like to learn more about Chinese New Year click here!
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