During 19th-Century China, a girl named Lily meets a laotong, or “old same,” in the form of a friend named Snow Flower. As the two girls grow up, they are taught the secret language of nu shu, which was created by Chinese women in order to communicate away from the eyes of men. However, adversity and jealousy tear the two friends apart and it is only on Snow Flower’s death bed that Lily learns she completely misunderstood a message from her laotong that caused her unneeded misery.
Best known for her Shanghai Girls series, Lisa See’s 2005 novel Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is a beautiful exploration on the unbreakable bond of friendship. The highlight of the novel is the complexity Lee layers into her characters, particularly when it comes to the relationship between females when they’re in an archaic, oppressive environment. As the friends begin to drift apart due to their circumstances, Lee weaves beautiful prose about their world, especially when it comes to ancient Chinese customs. With beautiful writing, See’s novel is an emotional roller coaster ride through the recesses of a human heart that will leave you remembering your own past friendships.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Thursday, February 26th, 2015||No Comments »|
China’s one-child policy was passed in 1979 as an effort to control the population. Since then, a new generation of only-children have grown up to change the culture of China. The One is a look at that generation and the affects the policy has had on them. The short documentary interviews several people who share their experiences growing up as the only child. Most of them admit that being the only child was lonely and made them more selfish as adults, while others say the policy has had no affect on their lives and was better for them. The film doesn’t really try to force a specific agenda on the debate. Instead, the film simply operates as a vehicle for those who want their voices to be heard, whatever side they’re on.
|Recommended by The Absolute Staff||Wednesday, February 11th, 2015||No Comments »|
For a lot of kids out there (who are now adults) with little to no knowledge of Japanese animation, the series Dragon Ball was their first experience with the medium (especially in Latin America). The popularity of this particular anime cannot be denied, but its inspiration is never really discussed. An obscure fact among non-die hard Dragon Ball fans is that Journey to the West, an ancient classic of Chinese literature, is the tale that started it all.
Published in the 16th century anonymously, but attributed to Wu Cheng’en, Journey to the West recounts the story of monk Xuanzang and his pilgrimage to India in search of sacred scriptures that will help enlighten the people of China. This task was given to him by none other than Buddha himself. Along the way Xuanzang enlists the help of various animals, namely the Monkey King Sun Wukong, the pig Zhu Bajie, and the sand creature Sha Wujing. Throughout their arduous journey Xuanzang and his entourage encounter many obstacles, but eventually reach their destination, a symbolic moment that represents enlightenment.
|Recommended by Stefano Llinas||Thursday, January 22nd, 2015||1 Comment »|
Ha Jin’s riveting novel A Map of Betrayal explores the complicated ties and loyalties between two countries. The story begins when Lilian Shang, who was born and raised in the U.S., discovers her father’s diary that reveals her father’s secrets. Apparently, her father Gary was the most important Chinese spy the CIA ever caught, but her heart is broken when she realizes how his double life tore his heart in two pieces. Gary’s story leads her to China where she comes face-to-face with his long-abandoned family and is forced to confront uncomfortable truths about the nature of secrets that are passed down from generation to generation.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Tuesday, December 16th, 2014||No Comments »|