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Kinfolk (Oriental Novels of Pearl S. Buck) Paperback – January 1, 2004

4.7 out of 5 stars 63 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Pearl S. Buck was born in West Virginia and taken to China as an infant before the turn of the century. Buck grew up speaking Chinese as well as English. She is the most widely translated American author to this day. She has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize and the Nobel Prize for Literature. She died in 1973.
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Product Details

  • Series: Oriental Novels of Pearl S. Buck
  • Paperback: 414 pages
  • Publisher: Moyer Bell and its subsidiaries (January 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559211563
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559211567
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #618,983 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By M. Galindo VINE VOICE on November 16, 2010
Format: Paperback
I have loved Pearl S. Buck's writing since I first read her novel, "The Good Earth," when I was a kid. She fostered in me a curiosity about China mixed with a respect for the people and the culture. When I discovered an old, hardback copy of "Kinfolk" in a used bookstore, I snatched it up! Little did I realize the copy I bought was from 1948, and had the originial owner's name/address on the cover - an extra bonus!

The story revolves around the Liang family: proud, arrogant, scholarly Mr. Liang, his simple, timid, but kind wife, and their 4 children. James, the oldest, has just finished medical school, Mary is calm and steady, Louise is a "typical" young woman by American standards, and Peter is determined to become a civil engineer. Mr and Mrs Liang have escaped China - and the oncoming Communist regime - for the freedom of New York City. However, along with that comes a severe clash of cultures: New York City in the 1940s is not very sensitive to the Chinese way of life, outside of Chinatown - much to the dissatisfaction of Mr. Liang.

James, who could have a brilliant career as a surgeon in New York, feels the pull of his ancestral China and his one desire is to return to the land of his parents. What results is a study of parents - displaced from an Oriental culture - into one from the West. And one of the children - displaced from a Western culture - into one from the East. Ms Buck, herself having lived both cultures, wonderfully brings the reader into the story and makes both, New York City AND Peking, come alive. The struggles, the clash of cultures, the joys, the sorrows, the small victories, the strength of spirit, all seem so real, so vibrant.

I had never heard of this novel, indeed I don't even think this is one of Ms. Buck's best. However, her writing style is so easy to get caught up in, so easy to feel part of the characters, it doesn't matter if this is the best or the least! This is a totally enjoyable story!
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Format: Paperback
This story covers the coming-of-age of four American-raised Chinese young people in the early 1900's. James, a talented young surgeon, decides to devote his life to serving the poor in China, and his siblings follow him. His teacher-sister Mary is equally devoted, but their younger brother Peter is disillusioned by the China he sees & listens sympathetically to the growing communist party. The youngest sister, Louise, has become very westernized & can imagine no home for herself but America. The story paints an interesting picture of how these brothers & sisters struggle to find their own identity in a world that is no longer simple.
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Format: Paperback
This is Pearl S. Buck at her most bewitching. At first she draws figures as clear as those in a coloring book. But soon, no one is quite who they seemed at first. The wise father is a bit cowardly and impure. The pesty little sister has great emphathy. The unsophisticated mother displays immense insight, and so on. Through their travails in New York, and in their ancestral village near Peking, the 4 Liang children and their parents will stay in your mind as fully-fleshed characters you were happy to know, and learned something in the process.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Pearl's books never cease to amaze me. I love the way she can tell a story. My granddaughter was adopted from China. All of Pearl's books have some much history and their many customs. I plan to start a collection of hard covered books of Pearl's to give to my granddaughter when she gets older. Another great book by one of my favorite authors.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Kinfolk is one of Pearl S. Buck's best novels. Having Chinese young people return to China to find and embrace their roots allows her to share the complex conflicts of modernity with traditional values. As usual, her characters come to life and you feel you know them. I have been to China eight times and spent a total of more than three months there, but have learned little from working with people in China about their feelings and the cultural reasons for their beliefs and behaviors. Each of her books bring a better understanding of the complexity of the changes from traditional to modern China and from the time of Emperors to the Communist Party today.
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I have given only one less than 5 stars, "Devil Seed." All the rest are marvelous and impossible to rate in any order of greatness, except to say (off course) "The Good Earth is at the top and "Devil Seed" at the bottom. Treasure them all, as they will soon come to an end.

She is so far above all the rest, except for Joyce Carol Oates, who is the best living writer, and could be the reincarnation of Ms. Buck. I thank God daily for giving us the great gift of both.
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Pearl Buck has been my favorite author since childhood. I am re-reading all of her books. China is one of my favorite places and I love reading about it's history from the view of personal experiences of Ms. Buck's characters and before my own modern China experience happened. It wasn't my favorite, but I get lost in her stories and how her characters come alive and become acquaintances of the reader. You feel you know them personally.
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The Good Earth sets the standard for Pearl Buck books. My time would have been better spent re-reading The Good Earth instead of reading Kinfolk. The characters were for the most part, unlikeable. The plot was unbelievable. I could not comprehend any of the behavior or motivations of the Liang family.
Dr. Liang, the father, is narcissistic, arrogant, cold. He sends his 4 children around the world to China, never to see 3 of them again. What kind of father does this? Nor could I willingly suspend my disbelief that the two older children, James and Mary, who have lived most of their life as New York upper class, would be willing to give up all the trappings of civilization, running water, electricity, cleanliness, to go "help" people they don't even know for some fairy tale image of Chinese peasants and the ancestral village. I kept waiting for it to get good, or even interesting, but it never did. If you loved The Good Earth, don't bother reading this book.
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