Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Author Birthday: Pearl S. Buck


From The Writer's Almanac:
It's the birthday of novelist Pearl S. Buck (books by this author), born in Hillsboro, West Virginia (1892). Her parents were Presbyterian missionaries in China, and Buck was born while they were on vacation in the United States. When she was three months old, they took her back to China. She learned to speak Chinese before she learned to speak English. She and her brother explored the streets and markets of Zhenjiang, watching puppet shows and sampling food. She was embarrassed by her blue eyes and blond hair, but she didn't let it hold her back. She enthusiastically joined in local celebrations, big funerals, and parties. She said, "I almost ceased to think of myself as different, if indeed I ever thought so, from the Chinese." 
She fled China after civil war erupted and began writing a novel on the ship to America called East Wind, West Wind (1930). The following year, she published The Good Earth, about a Chinese peasant who becomes a wealthy landowner. At the time, Westerners saw China as one of the most exotic places on earth. Pearl Buck was the first writer to portray the ordinary lives of Chinese people for a Western audience. The novel won a Pulitzer Prize and became an international best-seller. 
Buck turned out more than 85 novels and collections of short stories and adopted nine children. In 1938, she won the Nobel Prize in literature. Later, she became active in the civil rights and women's movements, and she founded the first international, interracial adoption agency in the United States.

I have enjoyed several of Buck's novels over the years and consider The Good Earth is a personal favorite. Most recently, I have listened to Pavilion of Women and Peony: A Novel of China. Imperial Women is on my Classics Club list and I plan to read it within the next year. Have you read Pearl S. Buck?

14 comments:

  1. I've only read The Good Earth, but it was such a powerful story. I can't wait to read more of her work.

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    1. Melissa - Maybe you could read one for The Classics Club.

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  2. Nice post on Pearl S. Buck. I read the Good Earth ages ago and might be worth another look. She wrote 85 books?! Wow. Funny how we don't hear more about her other works. Thanks for bringing them to my attention.

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    1. Wordhits - True, other than The Good Earth her work doesn't get much attention. I just noticed that Open Road Media has released several titles in ebook format. Maybe that will make Buck available to a new generation of readers.

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  3. SO long ago ... in junior high school, maybe! Now I feel old...but it would be nice to look as lovely as she does when I get there. :)

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    1. Audrey - She does look pretty good in that picture... and her work has held up, too .

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  4. So long ago since I read Pearl Buck - The Good Earth and one or two others which I don't remember. My 12 year old grandson is reading The Good Earth now - his English teacher thought he would like it and lent him her copy.

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    1. Cat - I hope he likes it. I was disappointed when my oldest daughter didn't really get into it at all. The other two have not read her :-(

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  5. The Good Earth is an incredibly beautiful book that I consider one of my very favorites :) Happy Birthday Pearl!

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    1. Jennifer - I've been meaning to reread The Good Earth for several years now. Once I do, then I'll read the other books in the trilogy.

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  6. I was blown away by The Good Earth. I need to find time to read her other books!!

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    1. Staci - Me, too! There are SO many great books in my tbr piles.

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  7. Thanks for the information on Buck. I loved The Good Earth and just finished the sequel Sons. It wasn't as good, but still interesting. It tells of the lives of Wang Lung' sons and the rivalries between them and their wives. I'll have to try to others that you mentioned.

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    1. Shelley - I picked up a copy of Sons at a used book sale not too long ago, but think I'll need to reread The Good Earth first. Pavilion of Women and Peony were both very good... you won't be disappointed in either of them.

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