Four Treasures of the Sky
Jenny Tinghui Zhang
Jenny Tinghui Zhang's stunning debut novel straddles continents, years and identities--from Zhifu, China, to San Francisco, Calif., to Pierce, Idaho, beginning in the early 1880s.
Narrator Daiyu, named after the fictional poet Lin Daiyu of Chinese literature, vows she will shed the melancholy of the poet's legacy. The book opens after the sudden disappearance of her parents and after her grandmother sent her from their small fishing village to Zhifu, for reasons she comes to understand later. Daiyu tantalizingly sets the stage: "When I am kidnapped, it does not happen in an alleyway. It does not happen in the middle of the night. It does not happen when I am alone." Daiyu is just 13 years old when she is kidnapped, and her coming of age is unlike few others in literature. Zhang pares her story down to its essence; it reads more like poetry, subtle but effective, taut without sacrificing immersion. With a 200,000-copy first printing, this novel marks the start of an exciting career.