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Kinfolk (Oriental Novels of Pearl S. Buck) Paperback – January 1, 2004
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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!
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book helped me understand the experience of the Chinese who moved to the US and their...Read more
Of thinking and life then Pearl Buck
fascinating story I couldn't stop to read.