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.
38 thoughts on “Literature and War Readalong Februay 28 2013: The Flowers of War – Jingling Shisan Chai by Geling Yan”
Hello Caroline: I tried to read this and couldn’t get into it, so I’ll be interested to read what you have to say. Sometimes it’s not the right time for a book…
Yes, that happens. And the movie isn’t for you either?
I’m quite interested to see how she treats this difficult topic. I’ve seen the one or the other movie. A very horrific event.
Didn’t realize this was a movie. Must look it up as well as the book. Thanks for the tips.
You’re welcome. I hope you get a chnace to join the discussion.
I just requested the book through the library. I hope this one arrives on time. I’m still waiting for The Yellow Birds, ugh.
I thought it might be difficult to get Tge Yellow Birds as it’s so popular at the moment.
I hope you receive this on in time. Btw, did you see my review for your challenge. I sent you an e-mail.
Yes, we did see the email. Sorry I haven’t responded yet. I’ve been a bit swamped and am behind in updating the challenge blog.
No problem. I used a wrong e-mail last year, so I wasn’t sure I whether I messed up.
This looks like quite an interesting book, Caroline. Will look forward to hearing your thoughts on it. It is really sad what happened in Nanjing. I have read about it in books on Chinese history and when I went to Nanjing I went to the museums too. It is really tragic. It is a sign of human resilience that inspite of this horror-filled event, the city has recovered back and is a thriving place of culture and business today.
It should be an interesting book, yes.
A horrible event. I hadn’t heard of it before I watched a movie on it a few years ago.
How interesting that you were there. I’ve only been in Hong Kong but would like to revisit China.
It’s true, humans are resilient. When you read how many were killed, it’s just so hard to believe.
By coincidence, as I’ve just noted on my blog, I tried watching The Flowers of War the other day (Zhang Yimou is one of my favourite directors) but found it a bit dull; and was generally annoyed by the central American character. Nice use of colour though, as usual.
After watching the trailer I had a similar feeling. I wonder how the American charcater will play out in the book. I suppose that during that time an American/foreigner was the only person who could help.
I couldn’t watch the movie. Recently saw some photographs taken during the rape of Nanking–horrendous.
I have a Chinese movie on my DVD pile and have postponed wathicng it several times as it seems very authentic which is hard to take.
Yay, I have this book with me and will definitely read it. I heard they say the movie is horrifying…I’m wondering if I should watch it. But looking that it’s directed by Zhang Yimou, I think I will reserve it. Review coming on 3rd week of Feb!
Ok, great, I’m looking forward to it. I’ll post as usual late in the month and will then add your link.
I’d like to watch the movie.
My discussion is up! Just in case I am busy during the week and missed reading your discussion in time. Thanks for hosting!
That’s great, thanks. My discussion starts on the 28th. I’ll add your review to my post and will visit shortly. Thanks a lot of joining.
I’m definitely reading the book and am looking forward to it because it’s a chapter of history that I’m not well-versed in. Thanks for choosing this selection!
Judith (Reader in the Wilderness)
I’m glad you will join us. It’s such a horrific event and still not all hat widely known.
I’m very intersted to find out how she will treat such difficult material.
Very tough subject matter. I have avoided the topic, because it’s so horrible, but maybe I can stand it now. Maybe.
A nightmare, I agree. I wonder how she will write about it. I didn’t see the book mentioned as too graphic, I hope it won’t be. Explicit but not graphic.
I had not heard of this book but it sounds like an important book. A few yaers ago I read The Rape of Nanking by Iris Chang and it may have been one of the top three most disturbing books that I have ever read.
I can easily understand why that was disturbing.
It’s one of those events which is hard to imagine as it’s so horrible.
I wish the library had the book. I really do. maybe I’ll get the movie, but I love to read the book first. I’m torn.
It really is too bad. Of course you could watch only the movie, if it’s not likely that you’ll find the book in a library.
great choice hope join in if my library has it ,all the best stu
That’s great news, Stu. I hope you will get it.
oh…I forgot that this book is for this month. I better borrow the DVD asap.
Yes, you better hurry up. 🙂 You like Christina Bale, don’t you?
Yes I do like him 🙂
He is one of few actors I admire. Very down to earth and talented
It should be a good movie, although I understand obooki’s comment. Why does an American have to play a major part in such a Chinese tragedy. But’ that’s obviously what the book is about.
I’ve been wanting to start this book but as it isn’t too terribly long I thought I had better wait until we get a little closer to when you’ll be posting. And I, too, have been in the mood to read something set in that part of the world. I’ve never read anything about the Rape of Nanking–am hoping it won’t be too devastating to read about, but the book sounds really good in any case.
I hope the same. It’s impossible to tell from what little is on the cover.
It’s not that long and I am also still waiting before I will start. I think it will be a quick read.
I’m curious about it. See you at the end of the month when I read your review!
I hope it will be good. I think she has written quite a lot.
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