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
  • 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


You know I too am auctioning you.

You turn around again, and now I see the huge bun at the back of your head, with a hairpin of white jade and a garland of pink silk flowers starting behind your left ear and looped down around half the bun. Several years from now, the depths of this bun will hide a brass button belonging to Chris, that white boy.

The first time he saw you, when he first thought of buying your services, he was only twelve.

Let's take a look at you from the very beginning. Very good: The hazy distance between us has thinned and all of a sudden you're right here.

Your fourteen-year-old colleagues instructed you to "market' yourself: If you don't get work, Fusang, you won't get supper and you'll be whipped naked. Your juniors in the field considered you worthless--you didn't know how to sell yourself; you didn't know how to make eyes at the men outside the window.

The histories describe this marketing in detail:

Chinese prostitutes employed their own unique ways of attracting customers: 'Nice Chinese girl, hey mister, come on in and see, your daddy he just go out!...' 'Two bittee lookee, fol bittee feelee, six bittee do- ' 'Chinese girly, fresh off boat, good girly, only thirty cent!...' Every now and then, moved by such explicit language and cheap prices, someone would turn back, pause, and pick out one of those children, one much like the next.'

You didn't hawk yourself. Whenever a man looked at you, you smiled at him, hesitantly at first, and then so wholeheartedly you made him feel you were wild about him and perfectly content with your life.

It was probably your smile that made these men realize you were no ordinary goods. Someone slows before your window. Bigger and taller than most, you rise from the creaky bamboo bed. The slight delay in your movements makes you seem almost dignified.

People could forget for a moment that you were a caged prostitute for sale.

This is what you were like when you first arrived in San Francisco. I certainly won't let people confuse you with any of the other three thousand whores from China.





Evening fog came ashore from the sea, dampening the dirt on the streets, growing heavier, settling. The dust that caught in Fusang's throat was no longer coming in the window.

A bit cold, a bit tired, a bit hungry, she was watching the buggy lanterns jouncing along.

Next door was fourteen-year-old Doughface, whose voice by now was as hoarse as the sound of ripping cloth. Three little white devils walked by, no more than eleven or twelve. Hearing Doughface call out, they pressed their dirty fingers to their throats to mimic her voice, the sound of their laughter like paper rattling in the wind.

Doughface tried again, Hurry up, come on in, your daddy he just go out!

The little white devils tore open their shirts like brutes, exposing their funny-looking navels. They begged her to unbutton her blouse.

She dickered over the price while fanning her collar open and shut. Her breasts looked like two swollen mosquito bites. She wasn't terribly pretty to begin with and the pockmarks on her face were as deep as raindrops in sand.

Her bamboo bed started singing, creaking out a rhythm. She would eat tonight.

Fusang left the window. The room was so small that with only four steps she had reached the curtain on the other side, where several flies hung, too cold to move. The flowers embroidered on the curtain had not yet faded. She lifted the curtain, with its filth and red flowers and green leaves and flies, stepped inside, raised and secured her skirt, and lowered herself over the copper chamber pot.

The water in the wash basin beside the chamber pot was still clean--no customers. All the prostitutes here told Fusang, You've got to wash yourself as soon as the john leaves, or else you'll stink to high heaven.

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!
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
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: A Certain Age
    A Certain Age
    by Beatriz Williams
    Lovers of high-society gossip, there's a new set of players in town. A good 20 out of 23 of our...
  • Book Jacket: The Romanovs
    The Romanovs
    by Simon Sebag Montefiore
    The Romanovs chronicles the reigns of the 20 individuals who were considered members of that dynasty...
  • Book Jacket: Barkskins
    Barkskins
    by Annie Proulx
    Barkskins, by Annie Proulx, is not a book to read quickly. After a month of slow reading, I ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Miss Jane
    by Brad Watson

    "Starred Review. Sensitive, beautifully precise prose. Highly recommended." - PW

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Imperial Wife
    by Irina Reyn

    A smart, engaging novel that parallels two fascinating worlds and two singular women.

    Read Member Reviews

Members review books pre-publication. Read their opinions in First Impressions

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Girl Waits with Gun
by Amy Stewart

An enthralling novel based on the forgotten true adventures of one of the nation's first female deputy sheriffs.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Summer Stunner
Summer Giveaway

Win 5 books, each week in July!

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

W M T N, W C F All

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.

 
X

BookBrowse Summer Giveaway

We're giving away
5 books every
week in July!