Daughters of the Flower Fragrant Garden: Sisters Separated by China's Civil War
"A heartrending story, beautifully told, about the struggles and triumphs of two sisters separated by the Taiwan Strait, but united in their determination to pursue meaningful lives amid political upheaval. I couldn’t stop reading it."
Amy Stanley, author of Stranger in the Shogun’s City
“Li Zhuqing has captured the agonizing struggle of late-20th-century Chinese history within the microcosm of her own extraordinary family, split by chance in the tumultuous summer of 1949. This is a tale of accidental exile, capitalism and communism, medicine and mercantilism, lifelong nostalgia and willfulforgetting, and the breathtaking resilience of two sisters, Li's indomitable aunts. How lucky we are that their niece has the skill and devotion to tell their story so well. “
Janice Nimura, author of The Doctors Blackwell
“With sensitivity and sincerity, Daughters of the Flower Fragrant Garden takes readers through the most complicated, difficult, sorrowful, and indecipherable years in China’s modern history.Zhuqing Li’s beautifully narrated family stories are tightly entangled with the wider historical context, unfolding on a magnificent scale, and evoke unique feelings of pain and helplessness that belong to that era.”
Ai Wei Wei, author of 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows
"In gorgeous prose, Zhuqing Li tells a story that is at once distinctive and familiar, of Chinese families of a certain generation that lived through wars, revolutions, separations, and reunions. I couldn’t put it down. A lovely book.”
Mae Ngai, author of The Chinese Question
“Beginning in war-torn China, Daughters of the Flower Fragrant Garden tells a compelling story about diaspora, root-seeking, and the triumph of familial love and human perseverance.”
David Der-wei Wang, author of The Lyrical in Epic Time
“At last, a profoundly human story that illuminates the staggering personal consequences of China and Taiwan’s historic split—from both sides. Rare is the author who can portray war and its aftermath so evenhandedly. This powerful page-turner of a family torn apart—and surviving—is as unforgettable as it is important.”
Nicole Mones, author of The Last Chinese Chef
Awards and Honors
Brown University Book Award 2023
Five Books The Best China Books (2022)
The New York Times recommended in The Morning newsletter "What to Read" 6/21/2022
The Wall Street Journal "10 Books to Read: The Best Reviews of June" (2022)
BookBrowse 20 Best Books of the Year (2022); 6 Best Non-fiction for Book Clubs 2024
Arab News What We Are Reading Today (August 1, 2022)
"Riveting...absorbing...exceptional...in telling this gripping narrative of one family divided by the “bamboo curtain,” Li sheds light on how Taiwan came to be — and why China might one day risk everything to take it."
"The book’s gripping narrative reveals the devastating human cost of the Chinese Revolution... The author’s perspective, from having lived both inside and outside the People’s Republic of China, yields exceptional insight into her aunts’ personal histories and the constantly shifting political vicissitudes they endured. She unspools the unexpected, accidental swerves each life took with spellbinding grace."
"Li’s book explores the momentous impact of momentary decisions on people’s lives in the context of massively disruptive historical events."
“A poignant story of sisterly love and the search for self-knowledge in the face of considerable challenges....Beautifully woven family memories coalesce into a vivid history of two very different Chinas.”
This historical biography adds to the oeuvre of similar works (Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister and Wild Swans, both by Jung Chang) but is no less intriguing, as it’s only since recently that these stories can be told with the dignity and honesty they deserve. Cinematic in scope, each sister goes through parallel epic sagas that are sure to entrance the reader. VERDICT: A wonderful addition to any library that will appeal to a wide audience interested in historical narrative, Chinese, history, family dynamics, and generally as a story of struggle against the odds.
— LIBRARY JOURNAL
"Li eloquently tells a moving story of her aunts and their resilience throughout one of China's most fraught centuries"
“Laced with frank reflections on the author’s own experience as a Chinese immigrant to the U.S., this is a poignant and intimate chronicle of the Chinese diaspora.”
What Ukrainian Families Can Learn from Taiwan
"...long after the guns are silenced, even if the best efforts at reconciliation are undertaken, separation doesn’t end when the war does."
Amid China's Civil War between Communists and Nationalists, How Two Sisters Were Separated by Fate and Kept Apart through Their Successes
Sisters and Enemies: A True Story of Two Sisters
World Journal 世界日報週刊