Excerpt from Under Fishbone Clouds by Sam Meekings, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Under Fishbone Clouds

A Novel

By Sam Meekings

Under Fishbone Clouds
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Hardcover: Dec 2010,
    416 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Elena Spagnolie

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Around three thousand years ago, the Shang kings turned to their dead ancestors for help at times like these. The dead, they believed, were powerful. Evidence of this was all around them – storms gathered from frothy clouds, drooping and meagre crops, victories in vicious frontier wars: all could be attributed to the unpredictable justice of the dead, moving between the seen and the unseen.

To appease their ancestors, the kings offered sacrifices, slaughtering scores of convicts and slaves, and transforming fields of oxen into seas of cloying blood and wild flies. Yet this did not always solve their problems, and, when rains continued, battles stalled and queens became barren, they sought to commune more directly with the dead, to ask them how much sacrifice was enough. They turned to animal bones in order to learn how to tame the future. Their questions, for which one of the first written examples of Chinese was created, were inscribed on these oracle bones and were answered by the cracks that appeared in the bones after they had passed through fire – for everyone knows that the dead do not speak the same language as the living. These writings have survived them, and so another exchange with the dead has been achieved, though even today it’s impossible to fathom answers to their dark and blood-soaked questions.

Hou Jinyi, his cropped mass of curly black hair plied into a messy side-parting over his horsy face, scrubbed up and shaved and dressed and smiling especially for this, his first visit to a photographer, stared up at Yuying. She traced a finger over that familiar lopsided smile. She too talked to those who could no longer answer, though she did not expect a reply. This is how she wanted to remember him, not as the wrinkled thing wheezing fitfully in the busy ward. She leaned forward to study the small portrait, and slowly let her memories carry her back to where she always travelled when she was alone, to the summer of 1946.

Excerpted from Under Fishbone Clouds by Sam Meekings. Copyright © 2010 by Sam Meekings. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Dunne Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    Mrs. Hemingway
    by Naomi Wood
    Naomi Wood's latest novel, Mrs. Hemingway, is a fictionalized biography covering in turn writer...
  • Book Jacket
    The Stranger on the Train
    by Abbie Taylor
    The opening chapter of Abbie Taylor's debut novel, The Stranger on the Train, took me right back to ...
  • Book Jacket
    Night Film
    by Marisha Pessl
    One of the central tenets of Hinduism states that the world as we know it is just an illusion –...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The City
by Dean Koontz

Published Jul. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  66Tomlinson Hill:
    Chris Tomlinson

All Discussions

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

O O T F P, Into T F

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.