Literature and War Readalong Februay 28 2013: The Flowers of War – Jingling Shisan Chai by Geling Yan

The Flowers of War

It has been a while since I’ve last read a Chinese novel. Over the years it has become a literature I have learned to appreciate a lot and it was about time to return to it. Geling Yan is a well-known novelist in China. She has written short stories, scripts, essays and novels. Many of her books have been made into movies. The Flowers of War – Jingling Shisan Chai is no exception. The Flowers of War is based on one of the most horrible events which have taken place during war-time – the notorious Nanking/Nanjing Massacre in which Japanese troops slaughtered Chinese civilians. It has been estimated that 250.000 to 300.000 people have been killed. It is sometimes also called The Rape of Nanking. The story of this book is narrated from the point of view of Shujuan a 13 year-old schoolgirl. Together with a group of other girls she hides in the compound of an American church.

Here are the first sentences

Shujuan woke with a start. The next thing she knew, she was standing beside her bed. At first she thought it was the absence of gunfire that had woken her. The artillery that had been thundering for days had suddenly fallen silent.

For those who can’t get the book or do prefer to watch the movie, feel free to review the film starring Christian Bale.


The discussion starts on Thursday, 28 February 2013.

Further information on the Literature and War Readalong 2013, including all the book blurbs, can be found here.