Excerpt from The Lost Daughter of Happiness by Geling Yan, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Lost Daughter of Happiness

by Geling Yan

The Lost Daughter of Happiness by Geling Yan
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Apr 2001, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2002, 288 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


A painting on the wall was torn down and the panels behind it pried free to uncover the secret passage.

Someone yelled to the naked girls, Get dressed, quick!

Ah Ding said, No, ifthey're naked, they won't run off on us. He wound his queue onto the top of his head.

The secret passage was only as wide as a square table for eight and six tables long, and everyone was pressing in, skin to skin. Ah Ding was the last to squeeze in. He said to the girls, who were so scared their teeth were chattering, Anyone makes a sound and I'll strangle her. The ceiling reverberated with the clomping of riding boots.

If the four men staging a mahjong game didn't fool the police, the search and ransack would begin. The police knew these auctions usually had a secret passage and they would knock across every inch of the floor and walls until they found it.

Fusang was cradling the bundle--someone had shoved it into her arms in the commotion. The whole building shook with the stomping of boots. The baby burst into wails.

Everyone stopped breathing, lest they add the slightest sound or motion to the place.

Cover its mouth, someone said.

A hand did so, and Fusang could feel the little thing squirming. The owner of the hand crooned, Little ancestor, little ancestor...

But the wailing kept escaping.

The boots came clomping down the stairs.

Ah Ding said, Give me the worthless little wench. His tone was gentle as he crowded his way toward the crying, stepping on the big feet of the men and the little feet of the women.

Don't be too rough, Ah Ding.

Who, me? No way.

Ah Ding, what the hell are you doing?

The group pressed inward, becoming a single slab of flesh.

Again Ah Ding said, Anyone who makes a sound I strangle. His tone remained as gentle as before.

His hand cupped the little head precisely, like palming a piece of fruit. Then he pulled it free from the swaddling, his other hand already on the baby's neck. The crying weakened and stopped. The group twitched, then became a slab of dead flesh again.

The boots had reached the basement.

Fusang's feet ached and she wanted to shift her step, but couldn't move, for the tiny corpse was piled still warm at her feet. Standing on the other side of it was Ah Ding.

He pulled a match from his pocket, struck it, and bent down to examine the life he'd just taken. He sighed with satisfaction, then lifted the flame to Fusang's bare leg and raised it all the way up to her face.

The image of Ah Ding flickered behind the flame. Fusang couldn't figure out what he was doing. No one ever knew what it meant when Ah Ding arched an eyebrow.

The match burned down to his fingers, then burned a moment longer before it went out.

you lower your head and watch

those ring-covered fingers pinching the flame shining on the dead little face.

The five-month-old eyes stare at him as if still alive. The little creature is memorizing the handsome face of the man who took her life. Two new baby teeth show between her tiny lips.

Your leg trembles and you want to pull your foot out from under the tiny sacrifice growing heavier and colder there. You realize that the little thing will remember not just Ah Ding but all of you, because when she started crying, every single one of you would have sacrificed her innocent life to preserve your own. Ah Ding was simply the one who acted on everyone's secret wish. In a sense, all of you borrowed Ah Ding's hands to stop it, to kill it, to put a halt to its unwitting betrayal of you.

Don't deny it: Every people must ensure its survival, and so there will always be sacrifices and offerings, times when they kill their own. Of course youcouldn't have been conscious of that secret desire. Ah Ding, however, understood the intimacy of killing one's own.

From The Lost Daughter of Happiness, copyright (c) 2001, Hyperion Press. Reproduced with permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

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!

One-Month Free Membership

Discover your next great read here

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Castle of Water
    Castle of Water
    by Dane Huckelbridge
    When a whopping 24 out of 27 readers give a book 4 or 5 stars, you know you have a winner on your ...
  • Book Jacket: Havana
    Havana
    by Mark Kurlansky
    History with flavor...culture with spice...language with gusto...it would be hard to find a better ...
  • Book Jacket: Temporary People
    Temporary People
    by Deepak Unnikrishnan
    In this powerful and innovative collection of 28 short stories, Deepak Unnikrishnan presents a ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Nest
by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

A funny and acutely perceptive debut about four siblings and the fate of their shared inheritance.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Manderley Forever
    by Tatiana de Rosnay

    Bestselling author Tatiana de Rosnay pays homage to Daphne du Maurier.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    If We Were Villains
    by M. L. Rio

    An intelligent and captivating story of the enduring power and passion of words.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

A library is thought in cold storage

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Y S M B, I'll S Y

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

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

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
Modal popup -