Today’s Shelf Awareness Maximum Shelf pick is Jenny Tinghui Zhang’s FOUR TREASURES OF THE SKY, 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.
“The result is a story that combines the tragic with the beatific, the historic with the folkloric. Zhang blurs these lines with such grace that the book reads easily, in spite of its heavy material. But it is the final few paragraphs that will stick between the ribs of any devoted reader. Zhang has accomplished a remarkable work of fiction that feels so real it stings.”–Shelf Awareness