From award-winning and bestselling Chinese writer Tie Ning comes a stunningly original novel that captures the spirit of a new generation of young professionals in contemporary China. The Bathing Women follows the lives of four women - Tiao, a children's book editor; Fan, her sister, who thinks escaping to America might solve her problems; Fei,a hedonistic and self-destructive young woman; and Youyou, a chef - from childhood during the Cultural Revolution to adulthood in the new market economy. This moving novel charts the journey of these women as they grapple with love, sibling rivalry, and, ultimately, redemption.
Beloved and renowned in China, Tie Ning's numerous books have never before been translated into English; this publication of The Bathing Women introduces a brilliant writer of uncommon talents, vision, and compassion to American readers. Spellbinding, unforgettable, and an important chronicle of modern China, The Bathing Women is a powerful and beautiful portrait of the strength of female friendship in the face of adversity.
The provincial sunshine was actually not much different from the sunshine in the capital. In the early spring the sunshine in both the province and the capital was precious. At this point in the season, the heating in the office buildings, apartments, and private homes was already off. During the day, the temperature inside was much colder than the temperature outside. Tiao's bones and muscles often felt sore at this time of year. When she walked on the street, her thigh muscle would suddenly ache. The little toe on her left foot (or her right foot), inside those delicate little knuckles, delivered zigzagging pinpricks of pain. The pain was uncomfortable, but it was the kind of discomfort that makes you feel good, a kind of minor pain, coy, a half-drunk moan bathed in sunlight. Overhead, the roadside poplars had turned green. Still new, the green coiled around the waists of the light-colored buildings like mist. The city revealed its softness then...
For those who were born outside of communism, The Bathing Women sheds light on some of the Cultural Revolution’s tragedies and effects on young people, but it is not political strife that marks this work as noteworthy – it is the careful exploration of love, loss, and the challenges of friendship and sisterhood that extend across time and culture which leave a lasting impression.
(Reviewed by Karen Rigby).
Full Review (893 words).
Short story writer, Chinese novelist and the youngest, first female President of the Chinese Writers Association (elected at age 49 in 2006), Tie Ning has long written about ordinary female protagonists who are often from rural backgrounds. From her 1982 story Oh, Xiangxue, which won an Excellent Short Story award and featured a country girl as the protagonist, to signature works such as How Long is Forever (1999, published in a Reader's Digest edition in 2010), which pits an innocent, traditional young woman against adverse conditions, and Da Yu Nv (2000), a novel which depicts themes of love, infidelity, and tension between sisters, Ning has sought to create honest portraits of women, exploring their pain and desire with empathy. ...
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