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The Flowers of War

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The powerful Chinese novel about love and war on which Zhang Yimou ( Raise the Red Lantern; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon ) has based his latest film starring Christian Bale to be released in 2012.
This moving short novel is based on true events that took place during the Nanjing Massacre in 1937 when the Japanese invaded the Chinese city, slaughtering not only soldiers but raping and murdering the civilian population as well. It tells the story of an American missionary who, for a few terrifying days, finds himself sheltering a group of schoolgirls, prostitutes and wounded Chinese soldiers in the compound of his church.
American priest Father Engelmann is one of the small group of Westerners who have remained in Nanjing, despite the approach of the Japanese. America is not yet in the war and so his church compound is supposedly neutral territory. However, his confidence in his ability to look after the Chinese schoolgirls left in his care is shaken when thirteen prostitutes from the floating brothel on the nearby Yangtze River climb over the compound wall and demand to be hidden. The situation becomes even more intense when some wounded Chinese soldiers appear. Meanwhile Engelmann is becoming increasingly aware of the barbaric behaviour of the Japanese outside the compound walls. It is only a matter of time before they knock on the door and find the people he is protecting.
Like Irène Némirovsky's Suite Française , this poignant book looks at the effect upon individuals of large-scale war and tragedy. The characters are beautifully observed. From the naive schoolgirls, the brazen prostitutes and the frightened soldiers to the slightly priggish priest and his resentful Chinese entourage. As the Japanese circle ever closer, the barriers of hatred and prejudice that separate the characters dissolve, and they perform unexpected and moving acts of heroism. Geling Yan, an important Chinese writer, reveals herself to be a master of detail and emotion in this novel. She recreates history as if it is unfolding before our eyes, and writes characters that are so engaging and so rich that we believe in them entirely. This is a novel full of humanity -- at its worst and at its best -- and a fascinating insight into 1930s China.

250 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2007

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About the author

Geling Yan

60 books172 followers
Geling Yan (嚴歌苓) is one of the most acclaimed novelists and screenwriters writing in the Chinese language today and a well-established writer in English. Born in Shanghai, she served with the People's Liberation Army (PLA) during the Cultural Revolution, starting at age twelve as a dancer in an entertainment troupe.

After serving for over a decade with the PLA (including tours in Tibet and as a war correspondent during the Sino-Vietnam border conflict), Ms. Yan was discharged with a rank equivalent to Lieutenant Colonel. She published her first novel in 1986 and ever since has produced a steady stream of novels, short stories, novellas, essays and scripts. Her best-known novels in English are The Secret Talker, published by HarperCollins; Little Aunt Crane published in the UK by Random House affiliate Harvill Secker; The Flowers of War, published in the U.S. by The Other Press and elsewhere by Random House's Harvill Secker; The Banquet Bug (The Uninvited in its UK edition - written directly in English); and The Lost Daughter of Happiness, (translated by Cathy Silber) both published by Hyperion in the US and Faber & Faber in the UK. She has also published a novella and short story collection called White Snake and Other Stories, translated by Lawrence A. Walker and published by Aunt Lute Books.

Many of Geling Yan's works have been adapted for film and television, including internationally distributed films Xiu Xiu: The Sent-Down Girl (directed by Joan Chen) and Siao Yu (directed by Sylvia Chang; produced by Ang Lee). Chinese director Zhang Yimou made The Flowers of War, a big-budget film based on her work set during the 1937 Rape of Nanking, starring Academy Award winning actor Christian Bale; Coming Home 归来, based on her novel The Criminal Lu Yanshi 陆犯焉识, and One Second 一秒钟, also based on that novel.

Ms. Yan has also written numerous scripts based on her own and other authors' work, both in English and Chinese, including a script for a biopic on the iconic Peking opera star Mei Lanfang for director Chen Kaige (released as Forever Enthralled 梅兰芳) starring Leon Lai and Zhang Ziyi. She wrote the script for Dangerous Liaisons 危險關係, a Chinese-language film directed by South Korean director Hur Jin-ho and starring Zhang Ziyi, Jang Dong Gun and Cecilia Cheung. Her novel Fang Hua 芳华 is the basis a film of the same name (English title Youth) directed by Chinese director Feng Xiaogang 冯小刚. Her novel A City Called Macau 妈阁是座城 was made into a film directed by Li Shaohong 李少红, released in 2018.

Geling Yan a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and of France's Société des Gens de Lettres. She is affiliated with the Hollywood screenwriters' union, Writers' Guild of America, west, and is a former member of the Chinese Writers' Association (中国作家协会).

Geling Yan went to the United States at the end of 1989 for graduate study. She holds a Master's in Fine Arts in Fiction Writing from Columbia College, Chicago. To date she has published over 40 books in various editions in Mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the US, the UK and elsewhere; has won over 30 literary and film awards; and has had her work adapted or written scripts for numerous film, TV and radio works. Her works have been translated into twenty-one languages: Arabic, Bulgarian, Czech, Dutch, English, Farsi, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Uyghur, and Vietnamese, and her English-language novel The Banquet Bug/The Uninvited was translated into Chinese. She currently lives in Berlin, Germany.

She has been subject to an unofficial but effective ban in China since March 2020, when she wrote and promulgated an essay on the Chinese government's initial handling of COVID-19. Her future Chinese-language work will be published by her own publishing company, New Song Media GmbH.

For non-Chinese language publishing she is represented by Agence Astier-Pécher.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 187 reviews
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,733 reviews14.1k followers
April 6, 2012
A more personal yet no less powerful take on the Nanking invasion by the Chinese. School girls, prostitutes, injured Chinese soldiers all come under the protection of an American priest in a church that is supposed to be off limits because of it's American status. The book takes place almost solely within this church and visits by the priest to what is supposed to be the safety zone. The way people change when confronted with adversity, among untold violence, are avidly portrayed in this novel. Sacrifices are made, others learn gratitude and by the end of this book I literally had goosebumps. The epilogue ties it all together and we learn where these people are 9 years later and how some of them had changed. The translation made the book seem distant in the first half or so, but by the end it was a book that delivered a big impact. Historical fiction readers find this book informative. ARC provided by Net Galley.

Read this book several months ago, but cannot get it out of my head. I read so many books but few actually haunt me, this one does so I have added a star and made it a five star read.
Profile Image for Crystal.
218 reviews7 followers
May 18, 2019
I’ve seen the other reviews which state that this isn’t a well written book. It may not have the same flow, pacing, or plot structure of what we’re used to in contemporary western stories. If it were, we’d likely have only one POV, through which there would be a character arc, which concludes with that character being transformed (most often for the better). What we have here is more in keeping with its subject matter. This is the siege and rape of a city. It’s scattered fires and ruin, chaos and shell shock, the scattered pages of the lives of people torn out abruptly. There is no happy ending. There isn’t a transcendent arc to grow through. It happens and it’s horrible and in the aftermath you have no answers. There are a lot of characters in this short book, we get snippets of each of them, a flash of who they are. That’s the way of catastrophe. In a brief glances you see all that’s in humanity. The savagery, naivety, and cowardice, but also the ingenuity, bravery, and nobility in us sparks to life. What shows in who at any given moment you witness has no meaning within the context of some grand character arc, it has meaning in the moment, and that is powerful.
Profile Image for mona aghazade.
140 reviews41 followers
April 23, 2019
خیلی در موردش شنیده بودم
خوب بود اما کامل ��بود 3.5 امتیاز مناسبه
داستان توی جنگ بود
جنگ تو یه شهر تو آسیا شرقی ، جنگی بین چین و ژاپن
وقتی شهر اشغال شده بود و نا امن بود روسپی ها تلاش کردن بیان تو کلیسا و جون ودشونو نجات بدن - جان یه امریکایی که اول داستان خیلی منفور بود و اخرای داستان با روسپی ها تبدل به قهرمانان داستان شد
منصفانه بگم اولش اصلا باحال نبود بلکه خیلی خسته کننده بود اما از وسطاش به اخر خیلی غم انگیز شد
اونجایی که سربازای ژاپنی تصمیمی گرفته بودن دخترای صومعه رو ببرن و روسپی ها جون خودشون و به خطر انداختن و جای اونا رفتن !
Profile Image for Lucia Nieto Navarro .
739 reviews161 followers
August 9, 2022
Novela ambientada en Nanjin, que se traduce c omo "capital del sur", (igual que Pekin se traduce como "capital del norte". Fue la capital durante mucho tiempo, en el momento en el que el ejercito imperial japones entra en Nanjing y arrasa con todo, con abusloutamente todo, asesinó a sangre fria, violó, incendio y asesino a miles y miles de civiles ( pero para esto teneis otra reseña mia hablando de esta barbarie).
Como digo, esta novela transcurre en una parroquia en Nanjing, donde el padre Engelmann refugia, cuida y educa a un grupo de estudiantes chinas. Los japoneses invaden la ciudad, y esta parroquia al final acaba llenandose de otras personas como seran un grupo de prostitutas.
Realmente me ha parecido una novela que se queda muy corta, se cuenta desde varios puntos de vista y así vemos como cada uno de los personajes vive las situaciones de diferentes maneras.
Todo pasa en la parroquia pero aun asi vamos a ser testigos por medio de algun personaje la barbaridad que se vivió en es época, pero para mi gusto es un libro que se queda muy cortito, pero que destaco sin duda un final sorprendente y no apto para todos y un epilogo magnifico.
Profile Image for Chrissie.
2,735 reviews1,469 followers
October 6, 2016
On completion: No, this was not a total waste of time. This novel is based on real events. It is about what actually happened in December 1937 in an American church which housed Chinese soldiers, prostitutes and 16 naive schoolgirls while the Japanese invaded and massacred all and everyone in Nanjing. The events are gripping. I wanted to know what would happen in the end. Read this book for the plot, NOT for the writing style. Terrible writing. The author or perhaps translator picks all the wrong words.

The audiobook narration by Samanth Quan, is neither exceptionally bad nor good, but when you listen to every word you certainly notice how the words chosen by the author or perhaps translator are completely off. Only read this book to find out about the Nanjing Massacre through a short book of historical fiction. This is not a book to choose if you are looking for good writing. Character development is superficial. Choose it if you want a quick, exciting book tied to real events that took place during the massacre.

Quite possibly the book is better in the original Chinese version.


I have listened to about half the book. I feel every line irritates me. It is the words chosen by the author that irritate me. The words seem inappropriate, wrong and unsuitable. I'm much picker about the words an author uses than the plot line. If strange things happen I reason that life is strange, weird things do happen, but if the author throws inappropriate words in my face I get terribly irritated.

So far this book feels like a total waste of time. A huge disappointment.

Profile Image for Odai Al-Saeed.
875 reviews2,412 followers
June 19, 2019
صورة قاتمة تجسد آلة الحرب وما يتخللها من إخلال بمبادئ الشرف والعرف والشيمة تقابلها حالة من التضحية ممن لا نتوقع ولا نحتسب ...في أحد الكاتدائرايات حيث تلجأ مجموعة من الفتيات ومجموعة من العاهرات ومتهد دفن موتى (حانوتي) في صورة قسيس يتلون من خلالها سرد ملغوم بآلة الحرب إبان إحتلال الجيش الياباني في ثلاثينيات العقد الفائت لمدينة صيني وترويع قاطنيها بالإغتصاب والإبادة ... تجسيد في هيئة صورة متقنة وابداع قلما تجد له مثيل ...للأسف لم تترجم إلى العربية بيد أن اللغة التي كتبت بها سلسة وتستحق القراءة مرات عدة
Profile Image for Historical Fiction.
920 reviews589 followers
May 23, 2013
Find the enhanced version of this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

I wish I could say I came across this title of my own accord, but I must confess, it was Ni Ni's performance in the film adaptation that prompted me to track down a copy Geling Yan's The Flowers of War.

For those whose history is a little rusty, the Nanking (Nanjing) Massacre took place in December 1937. Estimates vary depending on the source, but the International Military Tribunal of the Far East claim more than 200,000 civilians and military personnel lost their lives to the soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army. It is in my opinion, one of the darkest and oft overlooked chapters of WWII.

I would have been attracted to this piece even if I'd never seen the film. I'd never come across a fictional version of the event and couldn't help being intrigued by the idea once I had. I wanted to see how a writer would treat the event, how they would go about constructing a story from the ashes and sorrow it left in its wake.

In this regard, Yan has real a gift. Her work gives faces to the victims of Nanking and voice to their silent tongues. Through the fiction experiences of Shujuan, Yumo, Hongling, Cardamom, Wang Pusheng, Major Dai, Father Englemann and Fabio, Yan tells the human side of war, weighing emotion and sentiment against the stark reality of history.

The Flowers of War is a plainly written piece, but no less moving for its simplicity. In point of fact I found the modest language and style of the piece one of its more attractive qualities not to mention highly appropriate to the rather bleak subject matter.

Finally, I would note that for all the similarity this is not the same story director Yimou Zang tells on film. Be prepared for that and try to judge each format in its own right.
Profile Image for Maryam Behzi.
107 reviews148 followers
October 6, 2018
داستان فوق العاده تاثیر گذاری بود. تا حدی که پنجاه صفحه‌ی آخر کتاب رو با اشک و آه می‌خوندم. لازم نیست بگم چقدر غم‌انگیز بود چون وقایع به زشتی وجهه‌ی جنگ بودن. داستان کوتاهی بود تقریبا توی یک نشست تمومش کردم. فکر می‌کنم اگه یه سری چیزا توی سیر روایی داستان عوض می‌شد خیلی بهتر بود. اگه این کتاب به جای یه داستان کوتاه ۲۰۰ صفحه‌ای یه کتاب بلند ۵۰۰ صفحه‌ای بود قطعا خیلی بیشتر لذت می‌بردم.

می‌تونست خیلی به شخصیت‌ها پرداخته بشه ولی نشد. می‌شه شخصیت اول کتاب که داستان از دید اون روایت می‌شد رو مثال زد. هیچ‌شخصیت پردازی‌ای شکل نگرفته یود و صرفا به جز چند تا فکت راجع به زندگیش و خودش چیز دیگه‌ای نمی‌دونستیم. این شرایط برای تمام شخصیت‌های کتاب صادق بود. این که داستانی به این قدرت بنویسی ولی کتاب نه چندان خوبی از کار دربیاد خیلی ناراحت‌کنندست. دوست داشتم بیشتر بخونم و بیشتر تاثیر بگیرم ولی حیف که کوتاه بود

کتاب گل‌های جنگ داستان بدبختی و درموندگیه. صحنه‌های کتاب می‌تونه دل‌ آزردتون کنه. اگه در شریط روحی مناسبی نیستید این کتاب رو توصیه نمی‌کنم چون داستان تاریک و سیاهی داره که خواننده‌ رو توی دریای غم فرو می‌بره.
Profile Image for Cudeyo.
900 reviews46 followers
June 24, 2015
Reconozco que los libros escritos/ambientados en la cultura china no son plato de mi devoción, y no suelo leerlos. Y no porque no me interese ese país, su historia, sino porque me cuesta mucho identificarme con los personajes, al ser la suya una cultura y unas costumbres muy distintas a las nuestras, y que chocan con mi forma de ser.

Con este libro hice una excepción, ya que cuenta un hecho real como fue la matanza de Nanjing durante la ocupación japonesa del país. Un hecho no muy conocido en el mundo occidental, pero de gran importancia en la historia. Aún hoy perduran las heridas sin cicatrizar.

El libro, escrito en un estilo sencillo pero a la vez profundo, no se centra en el horror de los crímenes cometidos por los japoneses, sino en un grupo de refugiados encerrados en una iglesia católica, y enfrentados no ya al hecho de la ocupación nipona sino a sus propios prejuicios y diferencias de clases.

La autora muestra de forma clara, las diferencias de clases no sólo entre las prostitutas, los clérigos y las niñas, sino también entre las propias niñas y entre los clérigos, dando al final las menospreciadas prostitutas una gran lección de dignidad.
Profile Image for Hoora.
172 reviews29 followers
November 3, 2019
داستان این کتاب که در دوران جنگ بین چین و ژاپن (1937) رخ می دهد، درباره گروهی از دختران نوجوان چینی است که به صومعه ای آمریکایی پناه می برند.

گل های جنگ یک داستان تلخ و شیرین و غم انگیز درباره جنبه های متضاد جنگ، از نبود امنیت و خیانت های زمان جنگ تا فداکاری های غیرمنتظره و... است.

کتاب از نظر ترجمه خوب بود، ولی به ویرایش مجدد نیاز دارد.
گل های جنگ، ترجمه مریم آقایی، چاپ اول پاییز 1394، نشر کتابسرای تندیس
Profile Image for Librukie.
516 reviews286 followers
March 19, 2023
A veces pienso que ya estamos incluso algo insensibilizados frente a determinados sucesos históricos de tanto consumirlos en ficción y en otras historias que nos trasladan a la época en la que acontecieron.
Historias como esta me dicen lo contrario, que al menos para mi es imposible llegar a asimilar el horror que se puede llegar a sufrir en tiempos de conflicto.

En "Las flores de la guerra" seguiremos a un grupo de personajes que se refugiaron en una parroquia en Nanjing durante la ocupación en territorios de China por parte del ejército japonés, en 1937. Los clérigos de dicha parroquia acogen bajo su protección no solo a las niñas del coro, sino a un grupo de prostitutas y a distintas personas que van llegando a su puerta, a pesar de las dificultades que eso les ocasionará.
A pesar de su longitud, siendo una novela bastante corta, consigue transmitir los horrores que tuvo que vivir la población china, tanto los miembros del ejército como los civiles, al no respetarse en ningún momento el Convenio de Ginebra.

Es una novela dura y descarnada, que nos acerca un poco al dolor y sufrimiento de los inocentes durante un conflicto que siempre hemos asimilado más bien desde nuestro punto de vista occidental. Nunca está de más recordar los horrores que el ser humano es capaz de provocar a sus semejantes, ya que el olvido nos aproxima más al peligro de que algo así pueda llegar a repetirse.
Profile Image for Sotiris Karaiskos.
1,140 reviews80 followers
June 4, 2020
A small book that, however, says a lot about one of the greatest atrocities of war that ever took place, in a restrained way, without much emotional exaggeration. In fact, the author of the book shows little of these activities of the Japanese army, preferring to focus on her subject, which is the attempt of two Catholic priests to protect in their church some of the flowers found in the middle of the war. Of course, even in this protected environment, the news of the atrocities is enough to cause terror, and those who have taken refuge there understand that the danger is too great. In this heavy atmosphere, different behaviors emerge, with the intensity causing friction and conflict, but from the middle of the book to the very moving finale, the great danger they face unites them and leads them to deeds of altruism and sacrifice. So it turns out that good exists in human nature, at a time when bestiality seems to prevail and this is what ultimately gives value to this book that may at first but also in general not show that it is something great but I think that eventually with a humble way offers something to the reader.

Ένα μικρό βιβλίο που, όμως, λέει πολλά πράγματα για μία από τις μεγαλύτερες βαρβαρότητες σε καιρό πολέμου που έγιναν ποτέ, με έναν συγκρατημένο τρόπο, χωρίς υπερβολικούς συναισθηματισμούς. Στην πραγματικότητα η συγγραφέας του βιβλίου δείχνει ελάχιστα πράγματα από αυτές τις δραστηριότητες του Ιαπωνικού στρατού, προτιμώντας να επικεντρωθεί στο θέμα της, που είναι η προσπάθεια δύο καθολικών ιερέων να προστατεύσουν μέσα στην εκκλησία τους μερικά από τα λουλούδια που βρέθηκαν στη μέση του πολέμου. Βέβαια ακόμα και σε αυτό το προστατευμένο περιβάλλον οι ειδήσεις για αυτές τις βαρβαρότητες αρκούν για να προκαλέσουν τον τρόμο και όσοι έχουν καταφύγει εκεί καταλαβαίνει ότι ο κίνδυνος είναι πολύ μεγάλος. Μέσα σε αυτή την βαριά ατμόσφαιρα αναδεικνύονται διαφορετικές συμπεριφορές, με την ένταση να προκαλεί προστριβές και συγκρούσεις, από τη μέση του βιβλίου, όμως, μέχρι το πολύ συγκινητικό φινάλε ο μεγάλος κίνδυνος που αντιμετωπίζουν τους ενώνει και τους οδηγεί στην υπέρβαση του εγωισμού και στη θυσία. Έτσι αναδεικνύεται ότι καλό υπάρχει στην ανθρώπινη φύση, τη στιγμή που η κτηνωδία φαίνεται να επικρατεί και αυτό είναι που στο τέλος δίνει αξία σε αυτό το βιβλίο που μπορεί στην αρχή αλλά και γενικότερα να μη δείχνει ότι είναι κάτι σπουδαίο αλλά νομίζω ότι τελικά με έναν ταπεινό τρόπο προσφέρει κάτι στον αναγνώστη.
Profile Image for Tara Chevrestt.
Author 27 books293 followers
January 12, 2012
Imagine a church, the attic full of Catholic schoolgirls, the cellar full of whores, and toss a few men in between them to feed them and maintain order...and you get chaos!

What I liked: Tell of the rape of Nanking in a better fashion than Nanjin Requiem did, IMO. Nanjin was far too brutal, like a listing of brutality after brutality... This story, though it rarely left the church walls, told what was going on inside and out. Inside, you got a bunch of ungrateful whores that have bullied their way into the church and expect it to be a 5 star resort and though it wasn't conveyed very well, there are romances flourishing.

And the girls upstairs are dealing with conflicting emotions, growing pains, and petty bickering.

The soldier and his scene at the mass execution... WOW.

What I didn't like: Something was muddled in the translation. Badly. Lots of telling, little showing, and a ton of head hopping. Also came off a bit cold. And I sure did hate those whores.

In the end, it felt like a bunch of selfish people who didn't care that they were endangering other people. And sadly, that seems to be humanity.

Three stars. I got this from netgalley.
Profile Image for the Kent cryptid.
391 reviews10 followers
October 29, 2017
The Flowers of War is set during the horrific events of the Nanjing Massacre: the 1937 capture of Nanjing - then China's capital - by Japanese forces, who then murdered and raped thousands upon thousands of civilians.

The book tells the story of the efforts of two priests in charge of a Catholic girls' school to protect their young pupils from the invaders by concealing them in the school's attic. Matters are further complicated when first a group of sex workers from a local brothel, then three wounded Chinese soldiers, also seek refuge in the compound.

It's a simply-told and compelling story which carries a lot of emotional weight in its short length. I wished it could have been a little longer; there isn't much time to get to know the characters, although the connections that they do make between them are still intensely moving. The epilogue also feels a little rushed and disparate. Nevertheless, this is a great story about a period of history which must be remembered.
Profile Image for Kathy .
698 reviews232 followers
July 15, 2012
The reason I read this novel was for the historical information about the horrific actions of the Japanese army when they overtook the Chinese city of Nanking in 1937. For the background history, I am able to give the book a three-star rating. However, the writing was uninspiring, to say the most. The author was unable to create the relationship to the characters for the reader that grips the heart and mind. The plot was rather clumsily laid out, and the enormity of this historical event was not achieved. As a springboard to other writings about the Japanese occupation of Nanking, this book serves a purpose. As a defining read about the tragic events, it falls way short. I plan on pursuing my reading on the subject with the non-fiction work, The Rape of Nanking.
Profile Image for Jessy.
876 reviews58 followers
July 7, 2019
Encontré este libro por pura casualidad y me llamó la atención, la verdad es que me imaginaba una historia completamente diferente, pero me gustó mucho más de lo que había imaginado. La situación es bastante fuerte, ya había leído antes sobre el comportamiento de los japoneses en la guerra con China y me había sorprendido al igual que el padre Engelman, ese comportamiento no parece afín a su cultura. En este libro los personajes son de lo más variado y los retazos de sus historias me gustaron mucho, todos tan diferentes y al final todos ahí, escondidos, pasando por lo mismo. Los últimos capítulos me sorprendieron bastante y me la pasé bastante mal con el epílogo pero en general, me gustó mucho el libro.
Profile Image for Christina Dudley.
Author 16 books123 followers
January 12, 2012
For starters, the plot summary on Goodreads actually describes the movie adaptation, for which some key changes were made. Meaning, there is no Christian Bale character. There are, however, Chinese courtesans taking shelter at an American Catholic church/school compound, where the resident priest and his deacon undertake to hide them.

The book is very short and moves quickly. I found the writing style strangely detached, but had no idea if this was because it was in translation. Great plot and setting. My paternal grandmother could never, to her dying day, speak of the Japanese in Nanjing without whispering and shaking her head bitterly--this story helped me understand why.
Profile Image for Kim Thoa.
161 reviews7 followers
February 14, 2018
Ngày giáp Tết mà lại đọc xong 1 cuốn sách về chiến tranh. Không phải là kiểu bom đạn đánh nhau ầm ĩ mà theo một cách khác. Kể chuyện về chiến tranh, vụ thảm sát kinh hoàng Nam Kinh dưới góc nhìn phụ nữ. Chiến tranh thì ở đâu cũng tàn khốc dù là nữ sinh trẻ tuổi hay phụ nữ làm nghề gái điếm đang sống nhờ dưới sự chở che của nhà thờ Thiên Chúa. Cuối cùng là sống sót một cách tàn nhẫn hay tàn nhẫn để sống sót, bi đát rồi có lối thoát hay tìm lối thoát qua sự bi đát. Truyện hay.
Profile Image for Annie Machuca.
330 reviews26 followers
July 7, 2019
Este libro es desgarrador, al inicio es todo muy irónico y algo gracioso al ver la convivencia de tantos en un solo lugar, pero en los últimos capítulos cuando se enfoca a la guerra y lo que le pasa a las mujeres es brutal. Es lo que nadie nos cuenta de la guerra y que solo lo sabemos por que alguna familiar lo llegó a contar, pero no hay nada documentado de que las mujeres eres brutalmente violadas por los ejércitos y si ya no eras útil (según el criterio de los hombres del ejercito) simplemente te mataban. Esto es tan horrible como creíble.
Profile Image for Patrawan Dear.
1,367 reviews126 followers
August 22, 2021
# 13 บุปผาแห่งนานกิง

เรื่องนี้เล่าถึงเหตุการณ์เล็ก ๆ ที่เกิดขึ้นในช่วงการสังหารหมู่นานกิง แต่ impact สะท้านสะเทือนใจมาก อ่านจบมีคำถามมากมาย เจ็บจุกไปทั้งใจ ทั้ง ๆ ที่ผู้เขียนและผู้แปลเพียงเล่าเรื่องไปเรื่อย ๆ ไม่ได้จงใจบีบเค้นอารมณ์อะไรเลย

อ่านไม่สนุก แต่คิดต่อยอดได้หลายประเด็นค่ะ :)
Profile Image for Cindy Law.
14 reviews
January 7, 2022
Having watched the television series adaptation of the novel which I thoroughly enjoyed due to the depth of the characters, I must say I wasn't disappointed reading the novel. Although it is a translation and some details are undoubtedly lost in translation, I was surprised to see more details surface which were I did not think were particularly articulated in the TV series such as Fabio's identity crisis being a Caucasian raised in China and his tepid relationship with Father Engelmann, his feelings for Yumo, details of Shujuan and Xiaoyu's frenemy relationship (which I have to say is still kind of petty). Though, I did think the adaptation in the TV series regarding Yumo's alleged relationship with Shujuan's father made it more interesting as the audience could see that conflicting hatred and admiration Shujuan had for Yumo. Overall, I would say the novel is definitely worth reading despite the brutality and jarring nature of the Nanking Massacre because of the rich depth of the characters. If you enjoyed the novel, in addition to the movie I would recommend the TV series (Forty-Nine Days·Memorial) as for the large part it stays true to the novel and the actors and actresses perform really well!
Profile Image for Skarleth.
340 reviews10 followers
September 19, 2021

La novela en sí no exhibe gran complejidad literaria pero el pedacito de tiempo que esta historia retrata es lo que la hace muy buena.

Pone en escena una cantidad de variados personajes inspirado en una horrible historia de la vida real, hace de una manera sencilla y no tan gráfica un retrato minúsculo de los horrores de la guerra y nos recuerda que no importa a que te dedicas sino quien en realidad eres y las acciones que lo demuestre.
Profile Image for Mircalla .
649 reviews85 followers
May 14, 2013
i tredici fiori della sfiga cinese materlineare

tratto da una storia realmente accaduta: tredici prostitute rifugiatesi in una missione religiosa a Nanchino durante l'invasione giapponese si sacrificano al posto delle ragazze del coro e vengono sequestrate dai giapponesi

Se non avessi letto milioni di libri di storia cinese e alcuni di questi sul sacco di Nanchino da parte dei giapponesi nel 1937, questo mi sembrerebbe esagerato, ma il fatto è che i giapponesi si sono macchiati di tali nefandezze contro i cinesi all'epoca, che questo libro sembra una favola al confronto dei fatti storici,
la narrazione è di quelle stile Harmony cinese, ma il fatto raccontato è agghiacciante: le donne che si offrono in sacrificio si considerano meno di niente, è pur vero che in genere le donne in Cina valgono poco, ma le prostitute non sono considerate neanche umane, e le poverette non hanno un attimo di esitazione e si offrono per salvare la vita alle ragazzine del coro, alcune figlie di facoltosi stranieri e qualche vera orfana...

da vedere anche il film di Zhang Yimou tratto da questa storia "The Flowers of war" (Jin líng shí san chai 2011)
Profile Image for Mirella.
Author 17 books71 followers
December 15, 2013
The Flowers of War is a novel set in 1937 which depicts the Nanking Massacre. In fear for their lives, a group of prostitutes flee the Japanese atrocities by climbing over the walls of convent and church where young school girls, some from elite families, are being educated. At the forefront is the priest, Father Engelmann who is entrusted with the school girls lives. What ensues is a desperate story of survival from hunger, murder, and oppression.

The Flowers of War is novel that exposes the full atrocities of that period. It is very much a story of innocence vs. sin, of good vs. bad as the contrast between the personalities of the prostitutes and the school girls clash. Although the writing is simple and easy, the story itself is incredibly poignant with an expolosive ending that will not soon be forgotten. This is a story that will definitely touch readers.
Profile Image for Huy.
740 reviews
March 29, 2012
Vẫn luôn thích những cuốn sách viết về chiến tranh, và đây cũng không phải là ngoại lệ.
Profile Image for Rocio Voncina.
252 reviews17 followers
May 23, 2022
Titulo: Las flores de la guerra
Autor: Geling Yan
Año publicado: 2007
Motivo de lectura: @asianreadathon #AsianReadathon
Lectura / Relectura: Lectura
Fisico / Electronico: Electronico
Mi edicion: -
Idioma: Español
Puntuacion: 5/5

Este libro esta basado en un hecho real que es la masacre de Nanjing, sobre la ocupacion japonesa en China en el marco historico de la segunda guerra mundial.
Es una lectura desgarradora de principio a fin. Es una lucha titanica por sobrevivir bajo circunstancias realmente desesperantes.
Todo transcurre dentro de una iglesia y el desesperado intento de un sacerdote americano (junto con la ayuda de otro clerico y cocinero) intentando proteger estudiantes chinas (de edades muy jovenes) que no caigan presas de un destino fatal a manos de los soldados japoneses. Durante el relato, tambien se aprecia un grupo de prostitutas que logran ingresar a la iglesia buscando proteccion (para mi, las heroinas indiscutibles de esta historia).
Leer como el grupo de estas mujeres luchan por sobrevivir te parte el alma. Es una historia de union, amor, privaciones y sacrificios mas alla de lo que se pueda describir.
La manera en que la autora construye los personajes es excelente, la profundidad de cada uno de ellos, como relata los eventos, las interacciones y dinamicas grupales, los sentimientos y expectativas de cada participe de la historia asegura que esta lectura se quedara en tu mente y corazon por mucho tiempo, de esas lecturas que son dificiles de olvidar.
El epilogo es brutal, movilizador, inolvidable por su crudeza.
Aun cuando se que es una lectura dolorosa, son de esos libros que considero que todo el mundo deberia leer e investigar mas sobre la masacre de Nanjing y las atrocidades cometidas.
Profile Image for kyma_booklover.
398 reviews31 followers
March 5, 2023
En ocasiones los libros llegan a nosotros de la manera menos inesperada. Un libro que por mi misma igual no hubiera leído nunca pero que al formar parte de la lectura conjunta del mes de febrero de #clubliteraturasiatica me animé con él.

Nanjing. 1937. El ejército japonés ha arrasado la capital del país y tiene sitiada la ciudad de Nanjing. Un grupo de estudiantes han quedado atrapadas en una iglesia al cuidado del padre Engelmann. De repente un día llegan a la iglesia buscando asilo un grupo de prostitutas. A partir de este momento entran en juego muchas reflexiones, dejar a un lado los prejuicios para poder sobrevivir.

La historia real detrás de esta novela la desconocía por completo. Este libro me ha supuesto la excusa perfecta para poder investigar más sobre Nanjing y los terribles hechos que allí ocurrieron. Quizá este desconocimiento del contexto ha hecho que no pueda meterme en la historia del todo.
Otra cosa que he echado en falta es que se profundice más en los personajes, tanto en las estudiantes como en las prostitutas; ya que se pasa muy por encima de ellas y casi no las conocemos.

Es una novela dura en varias de sus partes. Te deja el corazón destrozado cuando te vas enterando de las atrocidades que se cometieron.

Es un libro que me cuesta mucho recomendar. Pero creo que puede ser un buen punto para poder descubrir más sobre este hecho de la historia tan desconocido.
Profile Image for Anemona.
139 reviews1 follower
February 24, 2023
Nunca había leído nada del conflicto entre China y Japón y gracias a la propuesta del club de lectura de literatura asiática, he tenido la oportunidad de conocer más sobre esta parte de la historia.

El libro habla sobre la toma de la antigua capital de china, en 1937, un conflicto que inicia antes de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, pero que se mantuvo a lo largo de ella.
La historia sucede dentro de los muros de una escuela católica que se ve atrapada en medio de este conflicto sangriento donde somos testigos de la violencia vivida por parte de los japoneses hacia el pueblo Chino, algo que muchas veces pasa de puntillas por lo que luego les sucedió en Hiroshima y Nagasaki, pero que ,bajo mi punto de vista, no puede ser olvidado.

El colegio se convierte en un refugio para un grupo de prostitutas y de unos soldados heridos. Sus historias se entrelazan y a pesar de venir de mundos distintos, su necesidad es la misma: sobrevivir.

La lectura es ágil y los capítulos no son excesivamente largos, por lo que se lee fácil, sin embargo, la autora consigue con su prosa que sintamos las emociones a flor de piel.

Muy recomendable y me ha sorprendido mucho.
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