Gold Mountain Blues by Ling Zhang

Gold Mountain Blues

byLing Zhang

Kobo ebook | October 18, 2011

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A sweeping, tragic novel spanning five generations and two continents

Gold Mountain Blues is a rich saga chronicling the lives of five generations of a Chinese family from Guangdong Province, which are transformed by the promise of a better life in Gold Mountain, the Chinese name for Canada’s majestic West Coast.

In 1879, 16-year-old Fong Tak-Fat boards a ship to Canada determined to make a life for himself and to support his family back home. He will blast rocks for the Pacific Railway, launder linens for his countrymen, and save every penny he makes to reunite his family because his heart remains in China. From the 1860s to the present day, Gold Mountain Blues relates the struggles and sacrifices of the labourers who built the Canadian Pacific Railway and who laid the groundwork for the evolution of the modern Chinese-Canadian identity.

A novel about family, hope, and sacrifice, Gold Mountain Blues is a marvellous saga from a remarkable new Canadian voice.

Title:Gold Mountain BluesFormat:Kobo ebookPublished:October 18, 2011Publisher:Penguin CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0143185845

ISBN - 13:9780143185840


Rated 5 out of 5 by from An extraordinary novel Gold Mold Mountain Blues by Ling Zhang is an extraordinary read and page turner. The novel is a fictional family saga set in China and Canada, spanning 125 years from 1879 to 2004, with vivid stories about life and death, love and hate of the Fong Family. The multi-generational epic starts with Amy Smith, the fourth generation of a Chinese immigrant, who visits her family mansion in China. Among the different artefacts found in the house, an opium pipe helps trace back to the early years of the Fong family and their eldest son, Ah-Fat’s youth as a farm boy in Hoi Ping County of Guangdong Province. To help his family out of poverty, Ah-Fat leaves for Gold Mountain. His pigtail cut is a sign of cultural conflict, but not because of the Xinhai Revolution. Then a woman’s old jacket and pair of silk stockings tell the story of Ah-Fat who returns to his hometown for an arranged marriage several years later. Reading the letters discovered in the house, Amy learns about Ah-Fat’s life in Vancouver and his wife with two children in Hoi Ping. Years later, Kam Shan, their eldest son joins his father farming in Canada. Kam Shan is, by inadvertence, involved in Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s revolution, and the loss of his pigtail leads to his temporary disappearance. The second son, Kam Ho, also joins his father in Canada. During the Second World War Kam Ho enlists in Canadian Army and dies in France. The photo Amy has brought with her links to the story of her mother, Yin Ling, the third generation of The Fong family, and Amy herself as the third generation of the unmarried women in the Fong Family. The reason for being unmarried is either being rejected by Chinese traditions or objecting the traditions. The novel ends with Amy making a surprising decision. The epic portrays a historically true picture of the Fong family that gradually becomes affluent in the village as the financial support provided by their family members through hard work in Gold Mountain at the cost of the family dispersion. After the Chinese communists’ takeover, the lives of the three generations of the Fong family come to a violent end in a rink, leaving the five-story mansion haunted for decades. The novel is developed with historical facts and events, such as building the Canadian Pacific Railway, early years of Chinatowns in Victoria and Vancouver, the Chinese head tax, Sun Yat-sen’s Revolution, Sino-Japanese War and the Land Reform Movement in China. The setting is sophisticated. Through Amy Smith’s eyes, the storyline goes back and forth between the present and past and between China and Canada. This story isn’t only about the Chinese Canadian family, but also about this family’s relationships with Caucasians and Native Indians. Gold Mountain Blues is one of the best novels I’ve ever read, emotionally touching and compelling, with an intriguing plot, dramatic scenes and intricate characters. Suspense and O. Henry-style surprise are built throughout the novel.
Date published: 2012-06-19