In my last post, Cry to the Captain, I spoke about the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign and my own personal reading challenge for 2015 to read more diversely.
Because I have awesome reading buddies who lend me awesome books, I have just read Gail Tsukiyama's Women of the Silk. I loved it!
I realize that this book is fiction and if I really wanted to be pristine in learning hard facts about a country, people and their culture, I would read non-fiction (but even then, history is written by the victors, eh?); however, there can be something vastly humanizing about reading and learning about a culture through fiction. In this book in particular, I felt I learned a bit about Chinese culture and the silk industry from about 1919 - 1930s not in addition to, but because of the events that unfolded for the main character, Pei. Tsukiyama wrote rich, complex characters that made me care about them. I wanted to throttle the non-communicative characters at times, I felt Pei's sadness and curiosity, I wondered at Lin's self-control. For me, the history and the facts are lifted from dust to breath by the characters (which is another reason it is so important for authors to research meticulously and be a part of the culture about which they write).
If you haven't read Women of the Silk, I'd recommend it.