It's December 1937. The Japanese have taken Nanking. A group of terrified schoolgirls hides in the compound of an American church. Among them is Shujuan, through whose thirteen-year-old eyes we witness the shocking events that follow. Run by Father Engelmann, an American priest who has been in China for many years, the church is supposedly neutral ground in the war between China and Japan. But it becomes clear the Japanese are t obeying international rules of engagement. As they pour through the streets of Nanking, raping and pillaging the civilian population, the girls are in increasing danger. And their safety is further compromised when prostitutes from the nearby brothel climb over the wall into the compound seeking refuge. Short, powerful, vivid, this beautiful vel transports the reader to 1930s China. Full of wonderful characters, from the austere priest to the irreverent prostitutes, it is a story about how war upsets all prejudices and how love can flourish amidst death.
Geling Yan is one of the most acclaimed contemporary novelists and screenwriters in the Chinese language today and a well-established writer in English. Born in Shanghai in 1959, she served with the People's Liberation Army during the Cultural Revolution, starting aged 12 as a dancer in an entertainment troupe. She published her first novel in 1986 and since then has written over 20 books and won over 30 awards. Her works have been translated into twelve languages, several have been adapted for screen, the latest being The Flowers of War, which was filmed by Zhang Yimou and stars Christian Bale. Geling Yan currently divides her time between Berlin and China.