Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Pearl S. Buck

Carrying a book in one's hands is a good thing to do - it has almost always sparked off conversations in an otherwise quiet lift. I have had that happened to me several times now and have thus drawn this fine conclusion.

As is my usual morning routine, I'll reach my work area an hour earlier, settle myself comfortably at a nearby breakfast eatery with my ham and egg mayo sandwich and a hot cup of coffee, with my favourite read in hand. I'm currently trailing Adeline Yen Mah's collection. At a quarter to nine, I'll usually rise to make my way to the office. This morning a colleague spotted me holding Adeline Yen Mah's A Thousand Pieces of Gold and found that I enjoy Chinese history and recommended me an excellent American writer, Pearl S. Buck, an American who spent most of her growing up years in China and who would return years later to dwell in the great land.

More than a great writer with a dozen award winning books under her belt and the first American woman to win a Nobel Prize in Literature, Pearl was a compassionate humanitarian. She personally adopted about a dozen children and established the Pearl S. Buck Foundation, which provides sponsorship funding for thousands of children in half-a-dozen Asian countries

According to wikipedia, Pearl wrote over 100 works of literature, her best-known being The Good Earth. The Good Earth chronicled the fictional life of the farmer Wang Lung against the backdrop of 20th century turmoil and revolution in China. It traces the rise of Wang Lung from the abject poverty of his early days to his final years by which he had accumulated great wealth and power. The novel portrays the complexities of marriage, parenthood, joy, pain, and human frailty. Pearl stresses in the novel the value of fertile land, hard work, thrift, and responsibility. The novel has a very circular feel to it, recreating the ebb and flow of life, the change of seasons, and the cycles of age and family. Pearl's writing is unique in the way it blends the technical language of the King James Bible with the simplicity and directness of the old Chinese narrative sagas.

Her writing career only began at the age of 41. Now that speaks volumes to me - there's hope for struggling, aspiring writers. I should be grabbing a title from Pearl's collection soon - probably beginning with The Good Earth.

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