It's December 1937. The Japanese have taken Nanking. A group of terrified schoolgirls hides in the compound of an American church. Among them is Shujuan, through whose thirteen-year-old eyes we witness the shocking events that follow. Run by Father Engelmann, an American priest who has been in China for many years, the church is supposedly neutral ground in the war between China and Japan. But it becomes clear the Japanese are not obeying international rules of engagement. As they pour through the streets of Nanking, raping and pillaging the civilian population, the girls are in increasing danger. And their safety is further compromised when prostitutes from the nearby brothel climb over the wall into the compound seeking refuge. Short, powerful, vivid, this beautiful novel transports the reader to 1930s China. Full of wonderful characters, from the austere priest to the irreverent prostitutes, it is a story about how war upsets all prejudices and how love can flourish amidst death.
See Geling Yan's website: http://www.redroom.com/author/geling-yan
I have long been a fan of Geling Yan's fiction for its power to disturb us out of our ordinary worlds. She is a writer of importance. In spare and unsentimental prose, she shows us the human condition in extreme times. The Flowers of War is yet another accomplished and riveting tale that touches us at the center of our being. -- Amy Tan Yan masterfully depicts bubbling tensions...testament to the bravery of women in the most horrifying of circumstances...(beautifully translated by Nicky Harman) -- Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore Independent The novel is rewarding for its spare prose and subtle treatment of the conflicts, quarrels, racial ambiguities and acts of transcendent heroism woven into the story... There are doomed love stories, amid the tragedies, but they are drawn from a deeper well and speak to the persistence of humanity in the grimmest of circumstances -- Isabel Hilton Guardian Powerful and poignant Press Association Great storytelling Observer
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.