It is December 1937 and the Japanese Imperial Army has just entered Nanking. Unable to reach the Safety Zone in Pokou, a group of schoolgirls are hiding out in the compound of the St. Mary Magdalene mission. They are looked after by Father Engelmann, an American priest who has made China his home for many years. The church is supposed to be neutral ground in the war between China and Japan, but eyewitness reports from the outside make it clear the Japanese are not obeying the international rules of engagement. As the soldiers pour through the streets of Nanking, committing unspeakable atrocities on civilians, thirteen Chinese courtesans from a nearby brothel climb over the church compound’s walls seeking refuge. Their presence further jeopardizes the children’s safety and what happens next will change all of their lives.
A haunting, passionate story inspired by true life events during the Nanking Massacre, this novel shows how war challenges our prejudices and that love can flourish amidst death and destruction. The Flowers of War is an unforgettable journey through the depths of the human heart.
About The Flowers of War (Movie Tie-in Edition)
The powerful Chinese novel about love and war on which Zhang Yimou (Raise the Red Lantern; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) has based his latest film starring Christian Bale to be released in 2012. This moving short novel is based on true events that took place during the Nanjing Massacre in 1937 when the Japanese invaded the Chinese city, slaughtering not only soldiers but raping and murdering the civilian population as well. It tells the story of an American missionary who, for a few terrifying days, finds himself sheltering a group of schoolgirls, prostitutes and wounded Chinese soldiers in the compound of his church.
American priest Father Engelmann is one of the small group of Westerners who have remained in Nanjing, despite the approach of the Japanese. America is not yet in the war and so his church compound is supposedly neutral territory. However, his confidence in his ability to look after the Chinese schoolgirls left in his care is shaken when thirteen prostitutes from the floating brothel on the nearby Yangtze River climb over the compound wall and demand to be hidden. The situation becomes even more intense when some wounded Chinese soldiers appear. Meanwhile Engelmann is becoming increasingly aware of the barbaric behaviour of the Japanese outside the compound walls. It is only a matter of time before they knock on the door and find the people he is protecting.
Like Irène Némirovsky’s Suite Française, this poignant audiobook looks at the effect upon individuals of large-scale war and tragedy. The characters are beautifully observed. From the naive schoolgirls, the brazen prostitutes and the frightened soldiers to the slightly priggish priest and his resentful Chinese entourage. As the Japanese circle ever closer, the barriers of hatred and prejudice that separate the characters dissolve, and they perform unexpected and moving acts of heroism. Geling Yan, an important Chinese writer, reveals herself to be a master of detail and emotion in this novel. She recreates history as if it is unfolding before our eyes, and writes characters that are so engaging and so rich that we believe in them entirely. This is a novel full of humanity — at its worst and at its best — and a fascinating insight into 1930s China.
About Geling Yan
GELING YAN is an award-winning Chinese novelist and screenwriter. Born in Shanghai, she published her first novel in 1985. Since then she has written numerous short stories, essays, scripts and novels including, in English, The Uninvited and The Lost Daughter… More about Geling Yan
Ebook | $5.99
Published by Other Press Feb 07, 2012| ISBN 9781590515570
Audiobook Download | $15.00
Published by Random House Audio Feb 07, 2012| 330 Minutes| ISBN 9780449013472
“I have long been a fan of Geling Yan’s fiction for its power to disturb us out of our ordinary worlds…The Flowers of War is [a] riveting tale that touches us at the center of our being.” —Amy Tan, New York Times bestselling author of The Joy Luck Club
“I will never forget some of the characters in this short novel for their amazing acceptance of their destiny and their dignity throughout. That [Yan] was able to convey this with so much authority, yet so simply, is testament to [her] splendid talent.” –The Arts Fuse
“Yan’s book is oddly moving, with a chilling ending that celebrates the triumph of human goodness.” –Belletrista
“The prose…is clear and straightforward. The people are vividly drawn, believable, and capable of surprising the reader. As the characters’ situation grows more perilous, we come to truly care about their individual fates. The climax of the story provides an enormous emotional jolt. What happens is heartbreaking yet in a sense inspiring, making this a truly unforgettable novel.” –Historical Novel Society