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Happy New Year!

Chinese New Year - Year of the Horseyearofthehorse

The Chinese year 4712, the Year of the Horse, begins on Jan. 31, 2014. New Year's festivities traditionally start on the first day of  the month and continue until the fifteenth, when the moon is brightest. In China, where the New Year's observance is the most important of the holidays, people may take weeks from work to prepare for it and celebrate. There are fireworks, parties and family visits, dragon dances, and red decorations everywhere. Each year is associated with one of 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac. It's said that people born in horse years are cheerful, skillful with money, perceptive, witty, talented and  good with their hands.

Join in the fun by reading about China, past and present.


fivestarbillionaireFive Star Billionaire by Tash Aw
A novel that offers rare insight into the booming world of Shanghai, a city of elusive identities and ever-changing skylines, of grand ambitions and outsize dreams. It is a portrait of four new arrivals to the city: a venerable business woman, a pop star, a factory girl turned socialite, and an inheritor of his family's lands -  all of whose fates are tied to an elusive billionaire. All bring their dreams and hopes to Shanghai , the shining symbol of the New China. "Aw reveals that the American Dream isn't so uniquely American..." (Amazon)



Pearl of China by Anchee Minpearlofchina
At the end of the nineteenth century in China, nine-year-old Willow, the only child of a destitute family in the small southern town of Chin-kiang, meets Pearl, the eldest daughter of a zealous American missionary. Pearl is independent and fiercely intelligent, and will grow up to be Pearl S Buck, the Pulitzer- and Nobel Prize-winning writer. From the start the two are thick as thieves, but when the Boxer Rebellion rocks the nation, Pearl's family is forced to leave China. As the twentieth century unfolds in all its turmoil, through right-wing military coups and Mao's Red Revolution, through bad marriages and broken dreams, the two girls cling to their lifelong friendship across the sea. 


enigmaofchinaEnigma of China by Qiu Xiaolong
Chief Inspector Chen Cao of the Shanghai Police wanted to be a poet in college but was state-assigned upon graduation to the police bureau. When the party orders him to sign off on the death of the son of a major party member as a suicide, his instinct is that the deceased may have been murdered. The man (head of the Shanghai Housing Development Committee) was outed by “netizens” who investigated his corrupt practices through the Internet, starting with a photo of one very expensive pack of cigarettes. Now Chen will have to decide what to do - investigate the death as a possible homicide and risk angering unseen powerful people, or seek the justice that his conscience requires.


Women of the Silk by Gail Tsukiyamawomenofthesilk
Set in rural China in 1926, the novel tells the story of a young Chinese girl, Pei, who is sent by her impoverished family from their struggling fish farm to begin work in a silk factory. Initially terrified, Pei soon settles into the communal routine, and finds the 12-hour factory day made bearable by the kindness of supervisors and fellow workers. Along with her best friend, Lin, she decides at 16 to go through the hairdressing ceremony, in which girls pledge to dedicate their lives to silk work instead of marrying. Leading the first strike the village has ever seen, the young women use the strength of their ambition and friendship to achieve the freedom they could never have hoped for on their own.