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Alison Wong, As the Earth Turns Silver
It is 1905, and brothers Yung and Shun eke out a living as green grocers near Wellington's bustling Chinatown. The pair work to support their families back in China, but know they must adapt if they are to survive and prosper in their adopted home.
Nearby, Katherine McKechnie struggles to raise her rebellious son and daughter following the death of her husband Donald. A strident right-ring newspaperman, Donald terrorized his family, though was idolized by his son.
Chancing upon Yung's grocery store one day, Katherine is touched by the Chinaman's unexpected generosity. In time, a clandestine relationship develops between the immigrant and the widow, a relationship Katherine's son Robbie cannot abide...
As World War One rolls on, and young men are swept up on a tide of macho patriotism, Robbie takes his family's honor into his own hands. In doing so, he places his mother at the heart of a tragedy that will affect everyone and everything she holds dear.
- Book Title: As the Earth Turns Silver
- Author: Alison Wong
- Publication: Penguin New Zealand, 2009
- ISBN: 9780143011675
- Pages: 288
- Winner, 2009 Janet Frame Fiction Prize
- Winner, 2010 New Zealand Post Book Award - Fiction
- Shoftlisted, 2010 Australian Prime Minister's Literary Awards
- Longlisted, 2011 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Awards
- "Based on meticulous research, [As the Earth Turns Silver] opens new windows on the development of our nation; it also opens our hearts to the anguish caused by racism, ignorance, failures in family relationship and communication, and war. The book is a delight to look at and hold, as well as deeply moving to read." ~ Charmaine Pountney, Judge at the New Zealand Post Book Awards
- " Alison Wong's haunting fist novel, As the Earth Turns Silver, draws on her Chinese family history in its account of New Zealand in the early years of last century. Richly layered, the book tells of independent women of conviction, of love sustained despite cultural and racial barriers (and without cliche), of the anger and malice that sinews the lives of some men. At the same time as a past era is surely and densely evoked, Wong treats astutely the perennial problems of prejudice and parochialism." ~ Judges' Comments, 2010 Australian Prime Minister's Literary Awards
- "This is one of those very special first novels that comes along only every now and then. We predict that this will be one of the big New Zealand novels of the year. It is written with a poet's eye for language and is simply a delight to read. This is rich, rewarding fiction of the highest quality. It is also about a subject virtually untouched in New Zealand fiction, the plight of the tiny Chinese immigrant community in New Zealand in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Alison has spent many years researching her subject, producing a novel which is quite unique. And it is also a beautifully told love story, which reaches across the racial divide in fascinating ways." ~ Geoff Walker, Publishing Director of Penguin Group (NZ)
- "There is an undeniable touch of New Zealand author Janet Frame evident in the breakdown of a New Zealand family. Katherine's once staid domestic existence is disturbed by her new-found love and a son determined to carry on his late father's patriotic beliefs. But Wong's voice is very much her own -- ethereal and challenging. The book's ending, shattering in its simplicity, is a testament to Wong's subtlety and skill as a writer. She has produced a thought-provoking, deeply affecting work about the choices we make and the courage to stay true to oneself." ~ Mitchell Jordan, The Epoch Times
- "Alison Wong's first novel is not merely a good book, it is a prodigious one... As the Earth Turns Silver is, as one critic remarked, written with poet's ear for language and an artist's eye for detail. With a first novel of this caliber behind her, Wong must now meet high expectations as a major voice in contemporary New Zealand fiction. On the basis of this book alone, I'm confident that she will." ~ Christopher Moore, Your Weekend
- "Wong is the Patricia Grace of the Chinese New Zealand experience.. The book is tightly plotted, and Wong is adept at keeping readers in suspense and using particularly enthralling language." ~ Karen Tay, Sunday Star Times
- "Imbued with lyricism and sublime imagery, the result is archetypal and enjoyable historical fiction..." ~ New Zealand Listener
- "Had the publisher's blurb not mentioned it, I would not have guessed that this was a first novel; the unfolding of plot and the development of interesting characters are both handled with the most assured skill. Such thorny issues as racism, women's suffrage and class are also handled with a deft touch. I, for one, am very much looking forward to Alison Wong's next literary endeavor." ~ Simon Auld, Reviewer
- "Powerful, moving and utterly unforgettable, As the Earth Turns Silver announces the arrival of a bold new voice in contemporary fiction." ~ Readings Bookstore
About Alison Wong:
Alison Wong is a poet and fiction writer. Born in Hastings, New Zealand, she has a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from Victoria University of Wellington and is a graduate of Bill Manhire's Original Composition class at the same university. Wong has lived and worked in Shanghai and New Zealand as an information technology analyst and writer.
In 1996, Wong held a Reader's Digest - New Zealand Society of Authors Fellowship at the Stout Research Center and a New Zealand Founders Society Research Award. She was a founder of Porirua's now defunct Poetry Cafe. In 2002, Wong was the Robert Burns Fellow at the University of Otago.
Wong's poetry and fiction has been widely published in literary journals and magazines such as Landfall, Sport, the New Zealand Listener, Meanjin (Australia), and Cha (Hong Kong), Her poems were selected for Best New Zealand Poems in 2006 and 2007.
Wong's first novel, As the Earth Turns Silver (2009), was published by Penguin in New Zealand, and by Picador in Australia. It was published in the United Kingdom, France and Asia in 2010. The book has been reviewed favorably across the world, with a reviewer from the Epoch Times saying, "[Wong] has produced a thought-provoking, deeply affecting work about the choices we make and the courage to stay true to oneself."
Wong received the 2009 Janet Frame Fiction Prize. As the Earth Turns Silver was the Fiction Award winner at the 2010 New Zealand Post Book Awards. It was shortlisted for the 2010 Australian Prime Minister's Literary Awards, and longlisted for the 2011 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Awards.
Other Works by Alison Wong:
Alison Wong's first collection of poetry, Cup, was shortlisted for Best First Book of Poetry at the 2007 Montana New Zealand Book Awards. The collection is described by Megan Fleming in The Lumiere Reader (February 14, 2006) as being "mostly accessible: there are details of domestic moments, the wonder of a new child, the falling out of love -- but [Wong] lends these subjects a humble and attentive form, drawing the reader in, to rest in the space between."
Reviewing Cup in the Southland Times, Patricia Soper comments that "there is a geographic and domestic component to her work -- small, everyday things re-created, elevated and lashed to the mast of sanity. A book to re-read."