The Good Earth

Pearl Buck


Why The Good Earth and Mount Huashan

There were a number of books I could have chosen for China: The Joy Luck Club, The Art of War, The Tao Ching. All these are well worth a read. The Good Earth is such a literature classic (and Pulitzer Prize winner) that it should be read by everyone. It may not be as well heard of as the other options above and that is the reason I chose this book. I think the female character of O-Lan is such a testament of our ability as people to endure. I just reread this book on the few days before coming to China and it’s still as moving as it was when I read it twenty years ago.

More About  The Good Earth

The Good Earth is a novel by Pearl S. Buck published in 1931 and awarded the Pulitzer Prize for the Novel in 1932. The best-selling novel in the United States in both 1931 and 1932 was an influential factor in Buck’s winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1938. It is the first book in a trilogy that includes Sons (1932) and A House Divided (1935).

The novel, which dramatizes family life in a Chinese village before World War I, has been a steady favorite ever since. It was included in Life Magazine’s list of the 100 outstanding books of 1924–1944. In 2004, the book was returned to the bestseller list when chosen by the television host Oprah Winfrey for Oprah’s Book Club. The novel helped prepare Americans of the 1930s to consider Chinese as allies in the coming war with Japan.

The story follows the life of a farmer Wang Lung starting on the day he marries O-Lan. It follows this family’s story through four decades through hardship and prosperity.