The Good Earth

By Pearl S. Buck,

Book cover of The Good Earth

Book description

A Chinese peasant overcomes the forces of nature and the frailties of human nature to become a wealthy landowner.

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Why read it?

4 authors picked The Good Earth as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

A fascinating journey. The Good Earth is a richly told tale of Wang Lung, from his beginnings as a soon-to-be marrIed young man through the utter poverty he and his growing family endure, to his eventual wealth and the complexities that arise thereafter.

The novel is a detailed depiction of Chinese tradition pre-revolution, the likes of which probably was never revealed to Western culture before in such detail and likely has not been done in such an engaging way since. A must-read.

I could have chosen any of Pearl S Buck’s books, as they are all beautifully written. But this one was the first one I read and what I remember most vividly is the tiny details of daily life, in a rags-to-riches story of a peasant man in China. One of the journey’s most emotional changes comes when he gets a concubine, and I liked reading about a concubine in a fairly ordinary household (rather than the usual imperial/upper-class settings) and the ripples it makes in family life. 

From Melissa's list on the concubines of imperial China.

There is a reason why The Good Earth won the Pulitzer Prize, is a regular on best books lists and was featured in Oprah’s Book Club. I have reread this story so many times over the years. It is a heart-wrenching tale of a farmer and his wife struggling to survive in 1920s China. The story follows the birth of their children, the extremes of both wealth and destitution, and the fragility of farm life. Ultimately their children turn their backs on the land that sustained the family for so long. It is a timeless tale of family relationships,…

This classic won the Pulitzer Prize and Nobel Prize for Literature. I read this book because I wanted to know what rural China was like at the turn of the 20th century, and how it differed from my book, which is set one hundred years later.

I am always hungry for China history and this book is the perfect excuse to learn about the Qing dynasty and Opium Wars. It gave me insight into the values during the late Qing dynasty, where second wives and bound-feet were considered prestigious. The story of how opium destroys people and families was…

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