Sam Meekings's debut novel, Under Fishbone Clouds
, is a quiet and thoughtful tale that follows the marriage of Bian Yuying and Hou Jinyi for over 54 years, from 1946 through 2000. In telling their story, Meekings mixes the beauty of Chinese culture with the brutality of its historyfamine, disease, Civil War, Japanese occupation, and the Cultural Revolution led by Mao Zedongwhile illustrating, with great care and craftsmanship, how the events in life shape our needs and behaviors, almost imperceptibly, as we grow older. The uncertainty of the times, and the expectation of loss subtly change how his characters relate to one another and, in time, even the landscape seems to help mould distinct personalities. Meekings's craftsmanship is remarkable, and his characters are interesting and believable throughout the entire novelthey are introspective without...
Beyond the Book
The Kitchen God
The playful yet poignant narrator of Sam Meekings's Under Fishbone Clouds
introduces himself as Zao Jun, a being who, before becoming the Kitchen God, was a mortal human. There are many versions of his story spread throughout different regions of China, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia, coming from both Taoist and Buddhist traditions, though mythologists date the most popular version back to the Han Dynasty in the 2nd Century BC.