Today I’m part of the Flatiron Books blog tour for Four Treasures of the Sky by Jenny Tinghui Zhang. This was a beautifully written and amazing read, telling the story of Daiyu, a young girl kidnapped from China and brought to San Francisco in the 1880’s. This story was startling, sad, and had many triggers relating to sexual violence, abuse, neglect, and more, but it was so beautifully told that I could not stop reading. Daiyu’s story tells of her strength and courage and shines a light on a time in our history that many don’t know much about. This is Zhang’s debut novel and her writing is so picturesque and so mellifluous that it’s hard to believe that this is her first. As someone who adores Lisa See’s novels (and has read most if not all of them), this book reminded me of her works. I can’t stop thinking about this story.
Historical fiction at its finest – thank you for my copy.
Here’s the overview:
“Engulfing, bighearted, and heartbreaking.” —Ann Patchett
A propulsive and dazzling debut novel set against the backdrop of the Chinese Exclusion Act, about a Chinese girl fighting to claim her place in the 1880s American West
Daiyu never wanted to be like the tragic heroine for whom she was named, revered for her beauty and cursed with heartbreak. But when she is kidnapped and smuggled across an ocean from China to America, Daiyu must relinquish the home and future she imagined for herself. Over the years that follow, she is forced to keep reinventing herself to survive. From a calligraphy school, to a San Francisco brothel, to a shop tucked into the Idaho mountains, we follow Daiyu on a desperate quest to outrun the tragedy that chases her. As anti-Chinese sentiment sweeps across the country in a wave of unimaginable violence, Daiyu must draw on each of the selves she has been—including the ones she most wants to leave behind—in order to finally claim her own name and story.
At once a literary tour de force and a groundbreaking work of historical fiction, Four Treasures of the Sky announces Jenny Tinghui Zhang as an indelible new voice. Steeped in untold history and Chinese folklore, this novel is a spellbinding feat.
And from the publisher:
I have always hated my name. As a child growing up in China, Daiyu’s grandmother tells her the tragic tale of Lin Daiyu, the heroine for whom she was named who died of a broken heart. Daiyu refuses to be like her namesake, resenting being named after a weak and sorrowful character. But at a young age, tragedy strikes when Daiyu is left parentless and destitute. When she is kidnapped and smuggled at the bottom of a coal barrel across the sea to San Francisco, Daiyu must constantly reinvent herself in order to survive. We follow Daiyu on a desperate quest to outrun the tragedy that chases her as she tries to find herself and a more promising future during a time when anti-Chinese sentiment and rampant violence are spreading throughout the country.
Jenny Tinghui Zhang is a Chinese-American writer. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Apogee, Ninth Letter, Passages North, The Rumpus, HuffPost, The Cut, Catapult, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from the University of Wyoming and has received support from Kundiman, Tin House, and VONA/Voices. She was born in Changchun, China and grew up in Austin, Texas, where she currently lives.