Burying the Bones: Pearl Buck’s Life in China by Hilary Spurling - review by Elaine Showalter

Elaine Showalter

China Girl

Burying the Bones: Pearl Buck’s Life in China


Profile Books 288pp £15

How does a woman overcome the suffocating messages of her culture to become an artist? In Burying the Bones, Hilary Spurling unearths the creative roots of the Nobel Prize-winning novelist Pearl Buck (1892–1973). Spurling points out that, although Buck’s most famous novel, The Good Earth, is still in print, the author is ‘virtually forgotten. She has no place in feminist mythology, and her novels have been effectively eliminated from the American literary map.’ Boldly conceived and magnificently written, Burying the Bones should repair Buck’s literary fortunes and restore her to the pantheon of feminist heroines.

In her foreword, Spurling dates her fascination with Buck to her childhood reading. The first book she remembers was Pearl Buck’s The Chinese Children Next Door, about a family of six little girls totally overshadowed and enslaved by the seventh child, a baby brother. When she reread it

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