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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Song of the Silk Road

Song of the Silk Road by Mingmei Yip

Working her way through graduate school, Lily is offered a large sum of money by an unknown aunt. But to get the money, she must first travel back to China and complete a series of tasks, both bizarre and illuminating. Readers who are unfamiliar with Chinese culture and cities will enjoy what Yip has brought in the novel. However, Lily does portray the untraditional Chinese lady who does have a strong personalities.

Song of the Silk Road does allude to romanticism. Lily has an affair with her former creative writing professor. Chris, the professor, is married with a son. Chris plays a major character in Song of the Silk Road as a motivator  and antagonist. However, along her travels through China, Lily meets Alex. There it becomes an almost instant love connection.Lily is unafraid of sexuality and sex. Song of the Silk Road, while the details are metaphorical pretty, does include lots of sex.

The ending was the happily ever after. It's especially perfect for readers who aspire to become writers. There is a touch of unbelievability and things wrap up too quickly. I would have like the consequences of the affair Lily and Chris had to be more prominent and have a greater repercussion.

Mingmei Yip's writing is terse yet flowery are the same times. It borders on awkward for me at times.

Song of the Silk Road sings about the life in China.

Cover B
I love that it features a Chinese woman on the cover but it doesn't tell me anything about the book
Published: April 1st 2011; paperback

Interview with Mingmei Yip:

1. Are you working on anything else at the moment?

Yes, my fourth novel set in the 20ies in Shanghai about a woman spy working for a gangster. I am also writing and illustrating my second children’s book.

2. Can you tell us something about yourself that not a lot of your readers don’t  know?

Besides my hectic writing schedule, that I still manage to take time to perform the Chinese zither (guqin) professionally – last year I was invited by Carnegie Hall to play at its Chinese Music Festival -- and teach calligraphy workshops.

3. What is your favorite part of the writing process?

After I labor through getting down the first draft, as I polish up my writing, I begin to enjoy my characters and their trials and struggles as they work towards a happy ending.  In my writing, I meet people like the Chinese herbalist and blind fortune teller in Song of the Silk Road, whom I might never meet in real life.

4. Do you have any quirks that come out while you are writing?

 I just plunge into my writing and ignore everything around me. Since I was a tiny girl I have always preferred life inside my own head.

5. What is your daily routine as a writer?

I don’t have a chance to write every day, but when I do, I write eight or nine hours non-stop, then I eat Chinese take-out and fall asleep.

6. What inspired you to write your first book?

I wanted to bring to back to life the strong women of an earlier era in China when almost the only choices for women were being a wife (actually, one of several wives sharing the same husband), a Buddhist nun -- or a prostitute. Despite this some women overcame the barriers to become independent and creative artists.        

Some mingji, prestigious prostitutes, also called geishas, left behind poems and paintings providing windows into fascinating but often tragic lives.

I decided to give these talented, powerful women -- silent for centuries -- a voice.

The result is my first novel Peach Blossom Pavilion, which I’m happy to say, is now in its fifth printing.

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