A Conversation with Lisa See, Author of "Dreams of Joy" and Other Bestselling Novels

Mar 12, 2012

[Aired on Monday, March 12th.] On today's show, we speak by phone with Lisa See, the bestselling author of "Shanghai Girls," "Peony in Love," "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan," "Dragon Bones," and other novels, as well as the acclaimed memoir, "On Gold Mountain." See's latest book, just out in paperback, is a novel called "Dreams of Joy," which she tells us about on today's ST. Named the 2001 National Woman of the Year by the Organization of Chinese-American Women, See will offer a free reading/signing tomorrow night (Tuesday the 13th) at 7pm at the TCCL's Central Library, which is at 4th Street and Denver Avenue in downtown Tulsa. (It's a Book Smart Tuilsa event; you'll find more information at booksmarttulsa.com.) As one critic has noted, writing about "Dreams of Joy" for Amazon.com (when the book first appeared in hardback): "See's 'Dreams of Joy' picks up the story of sisters Pearl and May where 'Shanghai Girls' left off: On the night in 1957 when Pearl's daughter, Joy, discovers that May is her true mother. While 'Shanghai Girls' followed the sisters from their time as models in the glittering 'Paris of Asia' to their escape from the Japanese invasion and their new life in Los Angeles, its sequel sends Pearl back to Shanghai twenty years later in pursuit of Joy, whose flight to China is propelled by anger, idealism, and a desire to find her true father, Z.G., an artist who may be falling out of favor with the Party. Joy goes with him deep into the countryside to the Green Dragon commune, where they take part in the energetic inception of Mao’s Great Leap Forward. But their collective dream of a communist paradise is soon overshadowed by hunger as the government’s bizarre agricultural mandates create a massive, relentless famine. Pearl, trapped in Shanghai as travel restrictions tighten, has little idea of the hardship Joy endures --- until both women realize they must subvert a corrupt system in order to survive. The best estimates put the death toll from China’s Great Leap Forward at 45 million, and See is unflinching in her portrayal of this horrific episode. In clean prose, she gives us a resounding story of human resilience, independent spirits, and the power of the love between mothers and daughters."