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Under the Hawthorn Tree
The story of UNDER THE HAWTHORN TREE is a complicated one. It began in the late seventies, right after the devastation of the Cultural Revolution, when a young girl, Jingqiu, fell in love with a boy nicknamed 'Old Three'. Jingqiu is from a politically suppressed family, while Laosan is the son of a mighty army general. She knew there’d no hope for them, but Three did everything within his power to protect her and finally won her heart. Their budding romance was cut short by fate, as Laosan had leukemia and died before there could be any ending for them, happy or otherwise.
Later, Jingqiu would leave China for the United States, eventually becoming a university professor. She got married, and had a daughter, but she could never forget Laosan, the man who loved her with a passion so pure and steadfast that she believed it could last forever. Then Jingqiu met Ai Mi, another Chinese immigrant who writes online. She decided to give Ai Mi her diaries and notebooks, hoping she would give voice to her story, never imagining it would become the phenomenon it is today.
Ai Mi started posting UNDER THE HAWTHORN TREE online in 2007, and it quickly became the reading sensation of the year. People in their fifties, who experienced the Cultural Revolution firsthand and some of them “zhiqing,” (educated youth) forced to leave the cities and went to the countryside for re-education, saw themselves in Jingqiu and Laosan. Young people born in the 80s and 90s, on the other hand, were moved by the purity of their love, which is all the more precious in a time when sex is easy and everywhere.
In September 2007, UNDER THE HAWTHORN TREE was published in book form, with a staggering first print run of 700,000 copies. The publisher printed five hundred galleys and sent these to celebrities, corporate leaders, authors and critics, creating an unprecedented buzz. Almost everyone cried after reading the book, and the female readers were especially touched by the tragic love story. The word spread like wildfire, and by the time the book hit the shelves, HAWTHORN TREE FORVER was already destined to become a bestseller.
Two years after initial release, UNDER THE HAWTHORN TREE has transcended the boundaries between truth and fiction, literary and commercial, nostalgia and sense of wonder, becoming a cultural icon, a common language among Chinese readers. Ultimately, it is the classic Chinese love story for a new generation.
* Winner of Dangdai Readers’ Choice Award for Best Novel (2007)
* An Asia Weekly Top Ten Novels of the Year (2007) * The phenomenal bestseller with over 1,000,000 copies sold in China alone.
* Movie to be directed by Zhang Yimou. Filming started April 2010.
UNDER THE HAWTHORN TREE was published in the UK by Virago Press on 26th January 2012.