Mulberry and Peach: Two Women of China

Hua-Ling Nieh, Author, Hualing Nie, Author Beacon Press (MA) $0 (207p) ISBN 978-0-8070-7110-6
In her first fiction to be published in the U.S., the director of the University of Iowa's International Writing Program presents a disquieting study of psychological and cultural schizophrenia. Mulberry, a teenager who grows to adulthood in China during the '40s and '50s, develops a wanton alter ego, Peach. Cutting between Mulberry's old journals and letters that Peach, traveling across the U.S., sends to the immigration official investigating her, the novel provocatively juxtaposes events from American history with China's upheavals; modern ways destroy the past, but do not liberate Mulberry from it. The author's insights about guilt and the ways in which we are trapped in our own lives are perceptive and powerfulMulberry, in hiding, tells her daughter that the people at liberty outside ``can't go wherever they want to, either . . . . The earth is a huge attic. The huge attic is divided into millions of little attics, just like ours.'' But with reductive statements at the beginning of each chapter explaining the characters' symbolic roles, wooden dialogue and often flat writing, this novel and its heroine fail to spark the reader's emotions. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
Paperback - 231 pages - 978-1-55861-182-5
Paperback - 207 pages - 978-0-8070-7111-3
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