A Single Swallow PDF/EPUB ☆ A Single eBook ô
This was a very delicately translated beautiful, but also brutal and explicit story of three men during and at the end of WWII They all meet up as souls after their deaths to fulfill a pact they made to meet on the anniversary of the end of the war after they have all died They each tell their stories of how the same woman, Ah Yan, (also known as Stella, Wende, and the Swallow,) touched their lives with love and dignity and each in very different ways.Ah Yan suffered many horrific and cruel things, and even though she placed her trust in people, over and over she was let down and hurt during her lifetime, but she still had the endurance and grace to perservere and survive through it all.This book takes a long time to read and digest It feels like a character study for each of the three men and for the Swallow herself I do wish there could have been a section about Ah Yan's story, instead of having her being implied, but it still works.There is also a lot of historical information to read I started this book, gave up, then restarted again I am glad I did It was long, but worth the read It makes you really think about the book, and in the end, it is a beautiful, thought provoking story.I would like to thank #Netgalley,Crossing publishers, and the author Zhang Ling for this advanced eARC, due to be published Oct 1, 2020 All opinions are my own.A Single SwallowBy Zhang LingPublished byCrossing Publish Date October 1 2020 I received an ARC of this book through NetGalley I am providing an honest review voluntarily.The premise of the book sounded great The bones of the story were good, but there were definitely some things I didn't like about the book.TRIGGER WARNING: bombing, gore, sexual assault, and death of petsFirst and foremost, the text was overly descriptive, and and was heavily overburdened by information that was unrelated to the plot The descriptions were so incredibly detailed that it took me off topic and made it easy for the plot to get lost There was a lot of telling rather than showing, leading to chapters that were excessively long and kind of boring The entire story is narrated through the point of view of various characters, including two pet dogs The chapter with the dogs really lost me As much as I love dogs, the story being told from their point of view involved complex humanized emotions that wasn't believable The entire time I read, I waited to find out what actually happened The story went from the future and worked backwards, with scattered periods out of order I found myself often getting distracted, and waiting for something to happen There was a lot of focus on the status of a woman who was sexually assaulted, and I didn't especially love how it was handled by any of the characters When the end of the book finally arrived, the final chapter would have been sufficient, except for the presence of an epilogue that was completely unnecessary.Overall, the book had so much potential, but maybe because it was originally written in a language other than it was translated to, it left something lacking for me. A captivating story of a Chinese woman told through the eyes of three men who enter her life at different times and leave their imprint on her life through their own mistakes, shortcomings and weaknesses.The three protagonists make a promise to each other that they would meet at a certain spot on a fixed date after their deaths and this story is the story of their memories of life, despite being narrated by “ghosts” the storyline doesn’t seem contrived or amusing in the least.The narration begins with the account of Liu Zhaohu, who grew up along Ah Yan, a young girl, on her tea plantation in a small village.He later on enlists in the army against The Japanese invasion abandoning Ah Yan at a crucial time.The second narrative is that of Pastor Billy, an American missionary living and working as a doctor in China.His support and protection ensures that Stella, a name he decides for Ah Yan, lives and survives despite the odds against her.The third is that of Ian Ferguson, a military instructor training soldiers in the war against the Japanese forces.He meets Ah Yan through Pastor Billy and falls in love with her.The story is about Ah Yan as she struggles and grapples with the challenges of life and has her trust broken again and again despite having loved unconditionally.The transformation of Ah Yan over the years is beautifully depicted and so are the depth and range of the emotions of those who loved and lost her and in many ways themselves too.Loved the flowery language and the vivid description of places.Despite being a translation, I can say the charm of this book has not been lost in translation..Thanks to Netgalley for my review copy.To be published 15 September 2020 ByCrossing. On the eve of the surrender of Japan and thus the end of the second World War, three man are sitting toasting in a small village deep into China One is an American Missionary who is almost 40, the others are almost half his age One is an American soldier sent there to train Chinese recruits, the other is one of those Chinese who became an expert marksman They make a solemn vow: when they will die their ghost will return to the village on the anniversary of this victory and wait for the other ghosts.Soon after one of the ghosts arrives but it takes many decades until the friends are reunited again They realise that a forth person is missing: the girl they all loved in their own special way (I think as a father figure, a bosom friend and a lover) They start to tell each other about their lives.Most time is spend on the life of the young Chinese soldier thus creating the recent history of China From the days that rural villages had only one scribe and people lacked decent shoes to a son in law who are now professors in America That is maybe also because the book is written by someone originally from China.It is translated from the original Chinese into English but the language still oozes foreign origins Some sentences are real jewelsAlthough the part told by the dogs is sweet but it does not fit into the concept of a meeting in the 21st century as the dogs tell their ghost story in 1945.I liked the glimpse into a for me foreign culture and a historic era The story is divided amongst several people what makes it less easy to identify with one but I liked the Chinese soldier most It is beautifully written and I liked the ending.A story you will remember.Reviewed this novel for Netgalley It will be published 01 Oct 2020. A Single Swallow by Zhang Ling translated by Shelly Bryant Thank you to Netgalley for the review copy The main character is a woman named Yao Ah Yan, meaning Swallow, whom we learn about through the eyes of three men who loved her Even though the story revolves around her, the story is never presented from her point of view. In 1945 China, when the Japanese surrendered, three men made an agreement to meet back in the village where they spent the war, after they die. The first man, Liu Zhoahu, knew Ah Yan as a child, and their parents intended for them to get married The second man, Pastor BIlly (both a missionary and a physician) rescued Ah Yan after she had been brutally raped by the Japanese, and she stayed with him learning to be a country doctor Ian Ferguson, tought Liu Zhoahu and the other Chinese soldiers how to operate a guerilla war against the Japanese He fell in love with Ah Yan when they would be out walking their dogs Until they meet, after Ian’s death at age 94, they are unaware of the others’ roles in Ah Yan’s story. The story is beautifully told from the point of view of the three men. The writing is very lyrical, finding beauty even in wartime Descriptions of Pastor Billy’s old bike, the steps in Ah Yan’s village, and other little details the author puts in really gives the book a sense of place Ah Yan was a very strong woman, many times putting other’s needs before her own I only have two minor quibbles, neither of which will lower the 5 star rating. I would have liked to see a section from Ah Yan’s point of view, instead of assuming what she was thinking and feeling based on the memory of the men in her life The other is, I saw no need for the final chapter, it did not add to the book other than to rationalize actions that did not need it. This book tells the story of a young woman named Ah Yan, from the perspective of three different men in China who knew her during World War II It’s told by their ghosts, almost in conversation with each other The writing is, at times, really engaging, namely the later quarter of the book The middle drags on a bit because we know much of the story from the start The author withheld plot information from the reader to keep us interested, and this slowed the pace of the book; you jump to a different perspective just as you are about to reach the answer, essentially rebooting the story I also found the depiction of Ah Yan and the trials she went through too serving toward the men She’s literally silenced for chapters of the text, and much of her agency is taken away Her life felt like a catalyst for the men in the story, and as their property almost, as we don’t get her perspective at all There’s also pedophilia suggested, sexual assault, rape, and other abuse toward Ah Yan, which turned my stomach She was obviously a strong woman to survive what she did, but I felt the author used her as a device rather than a full character of her own I didn’t feel connected to her because of this.Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the review copy. This novel has a great concept driving how the story unfolds3 comrades who survived the end of WW2 in China and heard the Japanese emperor's surrender on the radio meet back in their former village from beyond the grave after the final man dies Primarily in the voices of the three friends, the life story of a young Chinese woman is told by the three men who loved her TW for some seriously brutal sexual assault scenes and rampant misogyny even from her allies, and there's one weird chapter in the middle told from the POVs of two pet dogs Weird and not my favorite choice on behalf of the author, but not bad enough to ruin the book for me In general, I think it was an interesting and significant choice to use all these other (male) narrators to tell the life story of a strong, determined woman who survived so much in her life Poignant that the reader never gets to hear Ah Yan's story in her own voice.I gather this author is a bestselling novelist in contemporary ChinaI hopeof her books get translated into English I would gladly readfrom her.I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This book encompasses a world of information: China under Japanese imperialism, Chinese life, Chinese family customs, poverty in Chinese villages, Chinese tea plantations, American missionaries in China, American troops in China prior to and following the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the Japanese invasion – to name a few And then after the war, the advent of communism in China.The story involves a Chinese girl and older boy who grew up in the same remote village There is also an American medical missionary and a professional soldier who was American who figure prominently The story is told via the points of view of each of these – in turn – but also involves points of view of others, as well, including a dog.The story, which bounced around in time and place and POVs, was engaging enough to keep me reading However, it was a difficult read There were many “too long” descriptive passages Bouncing around as it did made it difficult to keep track of the plot and characters Also the story was in translation from Chinese Throughout the reading of it, there were many phrases that were (to my mind) typically Chinese, but which did not translate well.It was a beautiful and heartfelt story of people living through unspeakable horrors I would certainly recommend it to anyone wanting to know about Chinese life prior to the 50s.I received this Kindle edition from NetGalley and the publisher,Crossing, in exchange for an honest review. The eagerly awaited English translation of awardwinning author Zhang Ling’s epic and intimate novel about the devastation of war, forgiveness, redemption, and the enduring power of loveOn the day of the historicJewel Voice Broadcast—in which Emperor Hirohito announced Japan’s surrender to the Allied forces, bringing an end to World War II—three men, flush with jubilation, made a pact After their deaths, each year on the anniversary of the broadcast, their souls would return to the Chinese village of their younger days It’s where they had fought—and survived—a war that shook the world and changed their own lives in unimaginable ways Now, seventy years later, the pledge is being fulfilled by American missionary Pastor Billy, brash gunner’s mate Ian Ferguson, and local soldier Liu ZhaohuAll that’s missing is Ah Yan—also known as Swallow—the girl each man loved, each in his own profound wayAs they unravel their personal stories of the war, and of the woman who touched them so deeply during that unforgiving time, the story of Ah Yan’s life begins to take shape, woven into view by their memories A woman who had suffered unspeakable atrocities, and yet found the grace and dignity to survive, she’d been the one to bring them together And it is her spark of humanity, still burning brightly, that gives these ghosts of the past the courage to look back on everything they endured and remember the woman they lost DNF at 33% I know that both Ling Zhang and Shelley Bryant, the translator, been widely acclaimed, and the writing was lovely But it was just too slow for me A lot of it was the recollection/memories of the main characters rather than focusing on an overarching plot We start with the deaths of the three main characters, Pastor Billy, Ian and Zhao, and flash back from there So we know how things are going to turn out The novel depends on our wanting to study the character of Ah Yan Because that’s what this is, a character study Unfortunately, she wasn’t nearly compelling enough for me to want to continue this.In parts the writing felt too longwinded and too introspective, leading to a uniformity in tone that made moments that were meant to be urgent and nailbiting, such as Pastor Billy saving Ah Yan from infection, move nearly as slowly as the contemplative parts I liked the depiction of teamaking and the description of rural life in preWWII China, but overall, this wasstyle than substance for me.