Asian studies in Lithuania
Original language: English
Translated from: English
Authors: Mingmei Yip
Translated by: Vytautas Petrukaitis
ISBN: 9786090102466
Published in: Vilnius
Published on: 2012
Publisher: Alma Littera

“Peach Blossom Pavilion” is a novel about a Chinese girl who unexpectedly lost her both parents. The only chance to survive is to lean on her deceivingly looking aunt and her husband. The story starts when the heroine’s, Siang Siang, father is falsely accused of a crime he didn’t commit and executed without any mercy. For the rest of the family such a dishonor was worse than any kind of death penalty. After this incident, mother of the family is banished to a Buddhist nunnery, while the only child Siang Siang with the unbidden help of her aunt without even realizing it starts living in an elite house of prostitution.

At first heroine is thankful to her new foster-parents, she is being fed very well, dressed up with expensive clothing, having her hair done perfectly. However, Siang Siang later realized that everything has a price including her own body. Mostly the book is telling a story about Siang Siang learning how to pleasure a man, the circumstances of loosing virginity and how to strive against unpleasant outcome. Even though the girl is struggling with her all might in order not to be sold to an old influential man, her voice is left unheard. A prostitute has absolutely no rights- that is what kind of  image pops to your mind while reading. Regardless of being a prostitute, and later even an elite one, the girl is being taught art, poetry and how to play Chinese lute. She became a sophisticated person. Siang Siang endured this unnatural lifestyle only to escape from it. Her purpose in life was once she becomes stronger she will find her mother and avenge for her father’s death.

Novel is written in first person, that is from Siang Siang perspective, so it creates a very close relationship between reader and heroine. Also the writer is not afraid of using taboo words, so at first the reader can feel a little bit uncomfortable, however it just helps to show a prostitutes life more close to reality. That is why this book teaches not only artistic expressions but also some facts about China at that time, and local people’s mentality. The plot somehow reminds of Arthur Golden’s “Memoirs of a Geisha” so if there is a need to read something similar, this book is just perfect.

Initiators of the project: Japan foundation VDU