cover image Under Fishbone Clouds

Under Fishbone Clouds

Sam Meekings, St. Martin's/Dunne, $24.99 (416p) ISBN 978-0-312-62279-4

Meekings explores in his accomplished debut the inner workings of a Chinese couple's marriage before, during, and after the Cultural Revolution. Told from the perspective of the Kitchen God, who has been challenged by the Jade Emperor to unravel the mysteries of the human heart, the tale begins in 1946 as Jinyi and Yuying are soon to be wed. Skipping back to 1942 and 1944 to explore formative events in each one's past, the story takes the reader on a riveting trip of unrelenting trials and tribulations ranging from the loss of three sons to enforced work camps to, in the recent past, life-threatening illness. Still, through even the longest of separations and hardships, the couple's love endures, proving that the human spirit can rebound from the most dire of circumstances. Meekings is a bangup storyteller, and his easy handling of rich and varied material—rustic splendor, class warfare, profound anguish, drastic social changes—will keep readers rapt. This is a beautifully told love story as well as an absorbing study in Chinese folklore and history. (Dec.)