It was sometime during my high school days I read a Malayalam translation of the classic novel The Good Earth by Pearl S Buck. And, this could probably be my first world literature read followed by Brothers Karamazov of Dostoevsky. I got The Good Earth delivered again by Amazon during the year 2011 to read the English version for the first time while I was down with Malaria. This book, talking about the village life in China during the first few decades of the twentieth century, is still one among my personal favorites. Since my parents are also from an agrarian background, I could relate a lot to this novel and its characters. I saw my father in Wang Lung and my mother in O-Lan. Though we don’t own much land, my father’s love for the little stretch of land he owns is incomparable. He even got some more land leased from a rich landowner in our village out of his interest in farming. However, unlike Wang Lung, he has not succeeded in becoming a rich landlord 🙂
During a recent visit to China, I got a friend who is equally interested in books. When my fellow travelers were busy shopping in Wall Mart, we spent hours over some coffee at a local café talking about books, politics, and cinema and so on. Even after returning from China, we continued to talk over WhatsApp about our latest reads. I suggested him to read The Good Earth since it is about China of the pre-first world war period. To my surprise, he told me that it was not as popular in China as it was with the rest of the world.
A few days back, my friend happened to be in the city where I live. We decided to catch up over dinner. I really wanted him to carry something back to China but there was not much time get anything delivered online nor was I free to go out and look for something due to some busy schedule at work. So, I dug into my book collection and traced the 2011 copy of The Good Earth. Normally, I don’t prefer giving away books from my collection. Still, I thought there is nothing better I can give to a friend from China. And, his smile upon seeing the book proved the same 🙂
Of late, I have come to know that The Good Earth is the first book in a trilogy that includes Sons and A House Divided. While my fried will be busy reading The Good Earth, I have decided to go behind the remaining titles in the trilogy.