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Download Pearl Buck in China: Journey to The Good Earth Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Pearl Buck in China: Journey to The Good Earth , by Hilary Spurling Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (476 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Hilary Spurling Narrator: Hilary Spurlin Publisher: Oasis Audio, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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She recreated the lives of ordinary Chinese people in The Good Earth, an overnight worldwide bestseller in 1932, later a blockbuster movie. Buck went on to become the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Long before anyone else, she foresaw China’s future as a superpower, and she recognized the crucial importance for both countries of China’s building a relationship with the United States. As a teenager she had witnessed the first stirrings of Chinese revolution, and as a young woman she narrowly escaped being killed in the deadly struggle between Chinese Nationalists and the newly formed Communist Party.

Pearl grew up in an imperial China unchanged for thousands of years. She was the child of American missionaries, but she spoke Chinese before she learned English, and her friends were the children of Chinese farmers. She took it for granted that she was Chinese herself until she was eight years old, when the terrorist uprising known as the Boxer Rebellion forced her family to flee for their lives. It was the first of many desperate flights. Flood, famine, drought, bandits, and war formed the background of Pearl’s life in China. “Asia was the real, the actual world,” she said, “and my own country became the dreamworld.”

Pearl wrote about the realities of the only world she knew in The Good Earth. It was one of the last things she did before being finally forced out of China to settle for the first time in the United States. She was unknown and penniless with a failed marriage behind her, a disabled child to support, no prospects, and no way of telling that The Good Earth would sell tens of millions of copies. It transfixed a whole generation of readers just as Jung Chang’s Wild Swans would do more than half a century later. No Westerner had ever written anything like this before, and no Chinese had either.

Buck was the forerunner of a wave of Chinese Americans from Maxine Hong Kingston to Amy Tan. Until their books began coming out in the last few decades, her novels were unique in that they spoke for ordinary Asian people—“translating my parents to me,” said Hong Kingston, “and giving me our ancestry and our habitation.” As a phenomenally successful writer and civil-rights campaigner, Buck did more than anyone else in her lifetime to change Western perceptions of China. In a world with its eyes trained on China today, she has much to tell us about what lies behind its astonishing reawakening.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “An extraordinary portrait, rich in detail, ambitious in scope, with a vast historical backdrop that informs but never overwhelms its remarkable subject.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Penetrating…Spurling writes well, and with real feeling…The resulting portrait is a complicated one, but it has an absorbing glow…It’s a good story, easily as curious as any Buck herself put to paper.”

    New York Times

  • “Emphasizing the imagination’s power to ‘make bearable things too ugly to confront directly,’ Spurling sensitively traces the biographical background of Buck’s writing.”

    New Yorker

  • Pearl Buck in China is one of those exceedingly rare biographies where the reader senses the most powerful connection between author and subject, enabling remarkably sensitive understanding and insight.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “Spurling has drawn a fine portrait. She is a terrific storyteller, bringing us vividly into Buck’s world and keeping up the pace, unveiling like a good detective the individuals who were models for her prolific fiction…Spurling should be applauded for bringing this remarkable woman back to us.”

    Observer (London)

  • “A compelling reappraisal of Buck’s tumultuous early life and myriad accomplishments…absorbing.”

    Christian Science Monitor

  • “Vividly correlates Buck’s experiences of China’s turbulent times to her novels…Spurling’s fast-paced and compassionate portrait of a writer who described the truth before her eyes without ideological bias, whose personal life was as tumultuous as the times she lived in, will grip readers.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A 2010 San Francisco Chronicle Best Book for Nonfiction
  • Recipient of the Choice Award for Outstanding Academic Title
  • Winner of the 2010 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Biography
  • One of the 2010 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Nonfiction

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Jenny Brown | 2/15/2014

    " This is one of those brilliantly constructed biographies that read like a novel. I came away feeling as if I'd gotten to known Pearl Buck and with a lot more insight into why she wrote what she did. Highly recommended. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Nancy | 2/1/2014

    " I remember reading a lot of her books when I was in high school. Would love to read them again since back in HS I didn't know anything about Chinese history. I don't know a whole lot now, either, but enough to make the books even more interesting. She had a very interesting life and was ahead of her time in a lot of social ways. Her oldest child had brain damage at birth and her way of dealing with that so openly was a shock to both the Chinese and Americans. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Anne | 1/30/2014

    " Am reading this detailed biography of Pearl S Buck after reading the fictionalized but syllable compelling biography by Anchee Min. What a fascinating and unusual life she led. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Lesley | 1/24/2014

    " Having recently read The Good Earth by Pearl S Buck it was extremely interesting to read about Pearl's life and background which was the inspiration behind her Pulitzer prize-winning novel. The only thing that jarred was the use of American spellings (somber, enrollment, skillful, etc) in a book written by a British author. "

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