Inheritance

( 5 )

Overview

A timeless story of familial devotion undermined by deceit and passion and rebuilt by memory.
In 1931, abandoned after their mother's suicide, the young Junan and her sister, Yinan, make a pact never to leave each other. The two girls are inseparable—until Junan enters into an arranged marriage and finds herself falling in love with her soldier husband. When the Japanese invade China, Junan and her husband are separated. Unable to follow him to the wartime capital, Junan makes ...

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Inheritance: A Novel

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Overview

A timeless story of familial devotion undermined by deceit and passion and rebuilt by memory.
In 1931, abandoned after their mother's suicide, the young Junan and her sister, Yinan, make a pact never to leave each other. The two girls are inseparable—until Junan enters into an arranged marriage and finds herself falling in love with her soldier husband. When the Japanese invade China, Junan and her husband are separated. Unable to follow him to the wartime capital, Junan makes the fateful decision to send her sister after him. Inheritance traces the echo of betrayal through generations and explores the elusive nature of trust. Reading group guide included.

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Editorial Reviews

Richard Eder
In her first book, Hunger: A Novella and Stories, Chang focused on the intricate, sometimes hallucinatory tensions in Chinese-American families straddling the old country and the new. But in Inheritance she shifts her perspective, seeing American life almost as a postscript. The novel's action, viewed in retrospect from New York in the 1990's, takes place almost entirely in the China of midcentury, amid its tidal waves of political and social change. Shaped by their country's traditions, Yinan and Junan struggle with the shattering alterations to the world their mother knew: love, enmity and mutual need serve both to bind the two sisters and to force them apart.
The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
A complicated sister bond echoes through generations in this somber follow-up to Chang's well-received debut novella and stories, Hunger. In China in the early 1930s, sisters Junan and Yinan are inseparable, even as Junan matures into beauty and Yinan remains awkward and plain. Junan enters into an arranged marriage and falls in love with Li Ang, her soldier husband. Separated from him when the Japanese invade China, Junan sends the unmarried Yinan to keep her husband's household. What is intended as an arrangement of convenience turns to betrayal when Li Ang and Yinan have an affair. As China is divided by communism, the family is also rent in two. Junan and her daughters Hong (who is also the narrator) and Hwa end up in the States, while Yinan and Li Ang remain in mainland China with their son and are effectively banished from memory. It is memory-rather than dramatic action-at which Chang excels; her prose is lovely, but even images of the turmoil of war and displacement read at somewhat of a remove. Still, the sense of long family histories both spoken and unspoken is powerful, and the restrained conclusion has the force of Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day. Chang's sophomore effort may not chart new ground, but is still a solid effort. Agent, Jin Auh. 4-city author tour. (Aug.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
KLIATT
A story of sisterly love, romantic love and betrayal, this novel starts in China in 1931 and takes the reader to California and New York. It is about romantic love and political chaos and how sisters, brothers and married couples can often be divided as their loyalties change, because of love and politics. In this tale, two sisters in China in the 1930s, born of a mother who commits suicide, find themselves competing over the older sister's husband. The husband and his brother split over political differences, just as China and Taiwan split. The narrator is a young Chinese American woman who attempts to unravel her own family's history in the 1990s and, in doing so, takes the reader to her grandparents' and parents' China. The author grew up in Wisconsin, the daughter of Chinese immigrants who remembered a China that no longer existed. This novel is her attempt to discover the China of her parents and to reconcile the many divisions she creates in her fictional world. The modern American reader will find the names, the geography and the culture of the Chinese part of the novel somewhat confusing, but it is those details that give the story its texture. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2004, Norton, 302p., Ages 15 to adult.
—Nola Theiss
Library Journal
Chang follows up her award-winning short story collection, Hunger, with her first full-length novel, a multigenerational tale ranging from 1925 in China to the early 1990s in the United States. Seven years in the making, it was well worth the wait. Hong narrates the ongoing story of her mother, Junan, and her Aunt Yinan. During the Japanese invasion of China, the sisters' oath to stay together against all odds is broken. Junan, the stronger of the two, marries Li Ang, a soldier who is called to duty. When she can't follow him, she sends Yinan; the two eventually fall in love and have a child-the only male to be born in the family up to then. Chang adeptly portrays the strengths and weaknesses of her well-defined characters; her narrative flows well, except for an abrupt transition from Taiwan to the United States, which makes for a rushed ending. Readers who enjoy the works of strong women writers like Amy Tan, Gail Tsukiyama, and Hong Ying will relish this novel. Highly recommended for most fiction collections, especially those that specialize in Asian American fare. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 4/1/04.]-Shirley N. Quan, Orange Cty. P.L., Santa Ana, CA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393327113
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/17/2005
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 859,945
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Lan Samantha Chang's fiction has appeared in Atlantic Monthly, Story and The Best American Short Stories 1994 and 1996. Chang is the author of the award-winning books Hunger and Inheritance, and the novel All Is Forgotten, Nothing Is Lost. She is the recipient of the Wallace Stegner and Truman Capote fellowships at Stanford University. She also received, from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, a Teaching-Writing fellowship and a Michener-Copernicus fellowship. Her many awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, and she was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She lives in Iowa City, Iowa, where she directs the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 27, 2008

    Inheritance (Katie)

    Wealth, beauty, power, loyalty, connections, and even the worst of your family¿s bad luck, and shame can be inherited, as a blessing or a curse. Inheritance by Lan Samantha Chang is a book about the bad luck that can be passed down from generation to generation. Certainly the luck of Hong¿s family is centered around love, but isn¿t all fair in love and war.<BR/> The story starts out in Hong¿s point of view as she describes her grandmother Chanyi ¿no longer a young woman¿ going on a privet trip with Junan and Yinan to the fortune teller. Chanyi is a fragile woman in love, and the fact that she is in love is horrible to her. She knows that her heart will be broken, but she won¿t do anything about it, because she is in love. In her desperation she tries to see that her daughters, do not suffer the same fate, and so Chanyi¿s two daughters grow under this despair, however Junan hardens herself to it. Junan becomes a beautiful, perfect wife for Li-Ang, the man of her father¿s ¿choosing¿ however she bears two children, both girls. On the other hand Yinan dose not want to marry, even if it is her fathers wish. It is deceiving, the passion and love that is hidden inside of her, as well as Li-Ang, and while Junan is the mother of Li-Ang¿s two daughters, Yinan becomes the mother of Li-Ang¿s only son. <BR/> From the very beginning this family was fated for bad luck in love, Chanyi had born two daughters, but no son and as her husband¿s affections were given to another woman, there is no question that Chanyi had died with a broken heart. Junan never expected anything special, she would be married, even gambled away, and the marriage was not horrible, not at first. Even in the fear of what her mother had gone through, Junan fell in love with Li-Ang. She still loved him just as her mother loved her father, even after Li-Ang had clamed Yinan, her sister. Soon little Hong grew up, and even under Junin¿s(her mothers) strict rules, she fell in love, but only to bear the baby of a dead father. The years passed in disputes between sisters, daughters lovers, even friends, but forgiveness is not given.<BR/> Even in a life centered around the disputes of love isn¿t all fair in love and war? Junan fought against the horror that her mother had endured. She fought it away from herself, and tried to fight it away from the ones that she loved. However only Junan¿s daughter Hong, who just kept loving, lived without breaking her heart, again and again. What are you, a lover or a fighter?

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2004

    Majestic story, beautifully told.

    I have been awaiting this book since reading Hunger and it was well worth the wait. I recommend it highly.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2008

    Historically interesting.

    I liked this novel but I must have missed something in my reading. Junan wreaks havoc of her own doing and then wonders why? I just didn't get it. I loved the history in the book more than the characterization. I thought the prose was lovely, too. Try it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2007

    you won't be disappointed

    I found this book in the bargain section and thought the title and cover looked promising. Once I started it, I couldn't put it down. It moves quickly and no word is wasted. Highly recommend.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2005

    Hidden Treasure

    This was a wonderful book, but seems to be unknown by most. The story moves quickly and creates a tapestry that spans decades of Chinese History 20th Century History. I loved it . . . and have recommended this book to many who have not heard of it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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