A Pulitzer Prize winning book by a Nobel Prize winning author. Fascinating, and a delightful read.
My copy of the book said that it is an 'epic of a China that was.' But more than that, I felt that it was about the people who lived in that time, a normal farmer, like any other, distinguished only by the time he was in, and the clarity of thought that brings him alive in the pages. Wang Lung, and his family are average people- but the way their thoughts and lives are brought to the fore is amazing in its very simplicity.
Once again, the language is deceitfully simple and agonizingly spellbinding. Phrases like 'There was this luxury of living' might seem easy enougfh to construct, but they aren't, and it's her amazing prowess that is revealed in the effect created while reading it.
The story starts of with Wang Lung getting ready for his 'wedding' to O-Lan. As I read somewhere later, the story has a very 'watery' beginning, with many references to water. While it didn't say what it symbolized, my guess is that it referred to the continuity of life, as seen by the fact that Wang Lung starts of with his marriage, then has children, even as he takes care of his father till he dies, ending with him becoming a grandfather and his experiences thereon.
The whole sub story based on the pondering on whether it was necessary to be beautiful to be loved, and not just very wonderful otherwise is moving. The answer it reaches is- yes, love is but based on beauty, and it moved me to tears. The horror with which you read of the cruelty of human nature- and despite that- unwitting cruelty- makes you shudder, and realize that evil is not so easily definable, humans not so easily classifiable.
The ending is haunting. The words langorously leisurely.