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The Flowers of War (Movie Tie-in Edition) Paperback – January 31, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Other Press (January 31, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781590515563
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590515563
  • ASIN: 1590515560
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 5.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #579,459 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“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

About the Author

Geling Yan is one of the most acclaimed contemporary novelists and screenwriters in the Chinese language today and a well-established writer in English. Born in Shanghai in 1959, she served with the People's Liberation Army during the Cultural Revolution, starting aged 12 as a dancer in an entertainment troupe. She published her first novel in 1986 and since then has written over 20 books and won over 30 awards. Her works have been translated into twelve languages, several have been adapted for screen, the latest being The Flowers of War, which was filmed by Zhang Yimou and stars Christian Bale. Geling Yan currently divides her time between Berlin and China. --This text refers to the Unknown Binding edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Overall, it is a quick but very heavy read.
Catrina T.
I was so impressed that I had to read the book...I don't think that this movie is for the younger ones but for we adults ...I found this movie really good.
Ken Jimenez
The characters were believable and the style was very readable.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By TChris TOP 100 REVIEWER on January 31, 2012
Format: Paperback
The Flowers of War takes place during the 1937 Nanking Massacre. Fleeing the fighting that accompanies the Japanese occupation of Nanking, women from a brothel climb the walls surrounding the church compound maintained by Father Engelmann. With hungry schoolgirls in the attic and sassy prostitutes in the cellar, the missionaries become desperately short of food, water, and patience. Hiding in the compound's graveyard is Major Dai, wounded after a skirmish with Japanese soldiers. When two more wounded Chinese soldiers arrive at the gate, Dai emerges and demands that they be sheltered. Father Engelmann faces a dilemma: if he turns them away, they will be captured and killed by the Japanese; if he gives them refuge, he will be compromising the neutrality of the church and placing the schoolgirls at risk. The story that follows touches upon the lives of those within the compound's walls as they try to avoid becoming victims of the war crimes committed by the Japanese Army.

Given the dramatic setting, much of the novel is surprisingly weak. The characters are well constructed but familiar; the prostitutes are similar to the other prostitutes who make regular appearances in Asian novels (including Geling Yan's infinitely superior The Lost Daughter of Happiness), while Father Engelmann channels the standard American priest serving in a distant land. We learn bits and pieces about the lives of various members of the ensemble cast, prostitutes and soldiers and students and missionaries, but not enough to appreciate any character completely. A schoolgirl named Shujuan is often spotlighted but we know little about her beyond her petty jealousies in matters of friendship.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By happy on October 21, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
wow
what a story. One we have not heard enough of. One of redemption and courage during the horror of war. Oh we know all about the Nazi's but I think other than our soldiers who were in the pacific we have not been shown the horror of the Japanese occupations.
And the courage of those who stood up for freedom.
And just really how truely courageous those individuals were in any war.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kndl Fan on July 1, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
The rape of Nanking is a phrase I am familiar with but I could not have explained what it was about (outside of WW II). This excellent historical fiction about a group of young girls in a Catholic school, a group of prostitutes who seeks refuge in the church, and the ministers and soldiers who try to protect them is a moving education on this event. It is very much at the overview level, it does not spend a lot of time on the historical specifics. But if you enjoy historical fiction that lets you see lives from the past, and are willing to step into very different roles of women, this is a perfect read for you.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Keris Nine TOP 500 REVIEWER on February 1, 2012
Format: Paperback
Geling Yan's short novella, recently made into a film by Zhang Yimou starring Christian Bale, is another attempt to deal with the subject of Rape of Nanking, one of the worst war atrocities committed in the last century, when 300,000 Chinese citizens were systematically wiped out by the invading Japanese forces in December 1937, with many others subjected to horrific torture and abuse. Like recent movies that have been made about the event (John Rabe, City of Life and Death), perspective is critical when it comes to dealing with the subject of such a scale in anything like a comprehensible fashion.

For her part, viewing the events in Nanking from the perspective of an innocent 13 year-old girl, Geling Yan's novel is rather more straightforward and conventional, but it also proves to be an effective means of approaching the subject. The loss of innocence is implied right from the outset, the invasion of Nanking occurring at the exact moment that Shujuan takes her first period, but there is also a sense of boundaries and taboos being broken, of nothing being sacred, when the security of her location, sharing the shelter with a number of other young girls at an American Christian church under the protection of Father Engelmann, is regarded with no more respect by the ruthless and inhumane Japanese soldiers than John Rabe's international Safety Zone in the city.

The nature of the harsh realities of the world that the sheltered young girls have to deal with is reflected also in some of the other less welcome guests who arrive at the church's compound - three wounded soldiers and a group of prostitutes who have come looking for food and shelter.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on January 31, 2012
Format: Paperback
In 1937 the Japanese Imperial Army invades Nanking. The St. Mary Magdalene Mission is considered a safe neutral zone by the forces of both sides. American expatriate Father Engelmann protects schoolgirls trapped in his sanctuary though he fears sustenance shortages.

Ignoring the internationally agreed upon protocols of war, invaders commit monstrous atrocities against the local population; females are a particular target. Brothel workers sneak into the mission. Unable to send them away though they exacerbate the dwindling food and water supplies, Father Engleman places them in the basement and the students in the attic. Also inside the mission is wounded Major Dai, who, demands the priest, grant sanctuary to two injured Chinese soldiers. Father Engelmann feels like Solomon without the wisdom; as he knows if he grants the request he threatens the females under his protection from the Japanese, who if they find out will deem the Mission is no longer neutral; if he denies the soldiers they will die.

Mindful of Nanjing Requiem by Ha Jin, The Flowers of War is an intriguing look at the Massacre from the perspective of those hiding inside the mission. The storyline is deep as readers obtain a powerful look at the Chinese holocaust. However, ironically none of the cast moves passed typical stereotyping; for instance the American priest shoulders the "white man's burden", the usual prostitutes as seen in Ms. Yan's The Lost Daughter of Happiness, and the inane rivalry between students. Well written, fans will enjoy The Flowers of War as readers are reminded never forget, although there is no Minnie Vautrin.

Harriet Klausner
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