One of our recommended books is Four Treasures of the Sky by Jenny Tinghui Zhang

FOUR TREASURES OF THE SKY


This program includes a bonus conversation between the author and editor.

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 forced 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.

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This program includes a bonus conversation between the author and editor.

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 forced 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.

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  • Macmilan Audio
  • Audio
  • April 2022
  • 12 hours 18 minutes
  • 9781250837530

Buy the Book

$26.99

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About Jenny Tinghui Zhang

Jenny Tinghui Zhang is the author of Four Treasures of the SkyJenny Tinghui Zhang is a Chinese-American writer. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Apogee, Ninth Letter, Passages North, The Rumpus, HuffPost, The Cut, Catapult, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from the University of Wyoming and has received support from Kundiman, Tin House, and VONA/Voices. She was born in Changchun, China and grew up in Austin, Texas, where she currently lives. Four Treasures of the Sky is her debut.

Author Website

Praise

“Jenny Tinghui Zhang uses her considerable talents to illuminate the shocking injustices the Chinese in this country suffered in the 1800s, and in doing so, makes us stop and consider how much of that cruelty and injustice survive to this day. Four Treasures of the Sky is an engulfing, bighearted, and heartbreaking novel.”-Ann Patchett

“In a sweeping adventure that spans China and the American West, Jenny Tinghui Zhang has crafted a thoughtful story of identity, love, and belonging.”-C Pam Zhang, author of How Much of These Hills Is Gold

“Brilliant and devastating, Four Treasures of the Sky tells the story of Daiyu, who is brought to America against her will and forced to hide who she is even as she grows into her true self. Weaving together myth and history, Zhang’s work is both timeless and utterly necessary right now.”-Anna North, New York Times best-selling author of Outlawed

Discussion Questions

1. Daiyu grows up hating her name and namesake. What is Daiyu’s relationship to Lin Daiyu, and how does it change over the course of the audiobook? Do you agree with Daiyu’s assessment that Lin Daiyu “was no heroine”? 

2. How do Daiyu’s relationships with her mother, father, and grandmother shape her? What do they teach her as a child? When Daiyu learns of her parents’ deaths, what impact does it have on her?

3. Before she is smuggled across the ocean in a coal bucket, Daiyu is forced to learn English. How does this new language compare to Chinese? What does it suggest to Daiyu about the worldview of the English speakers she will meet? Discuss, in particular, how love and time are differently described in English and Chinese. 

4. To survive at the brothel, Daiyu tries to become “whatever they want me to be . . . and perhaps that will be my greatest weapon.” What does she mean? How does that bear out in her relationship with Samuel? 

5. When the gray-haired man sexually assaults Daiyu in Boise, how does she change? How does that experience continue to impact her for the rest of her life? 

6. Daiyu’s parents taught her that her intentions and actions must always match. How do you interpret that lesson? Do you think Daiyu ultimately achieves, as she describes it, “the perfect line”? 

7. Discuss the audiobook’s epilogue, in which we see an old woman and another figure on a shoreline, both calling out the same name. How do you interpret this scene? Do you find it hopeful?