It’s the new year, and so we’re looking at the novel… The New Year! Before reading this, I hadn’t read anything by Pearl S. Buck before. In fact, I knew very little about her. She was the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature (in 1938)! She had also won a Pulitzer Prize in 1932 for her novel The Good Earth, which we also have at the library. The New Year is one of her later novels; she died in 1973.
The New Year by Pearl S. Buck
I decided that I specifically would not look up any information about this book before reading it – the copy I got from the Cedarburg Public Library is old enough that it’s been rebound, so there’s not even a blurb on the back. It’s so rare today to go into a book completely blind that I thought I would grab the chance. I’m glad I did – the book gets off to quite a start. If you also want to go in blind, request it now instead of clicking the “read more” button!
The book opens with a clearly well-off couple; the wife is away for work, and she’s calling home to talk to their maid and ask how her husband, who has the flu, is doing. The maid makes breakfast for the husband and brings in the mail, which includes a letter all the way from Korea. He opens the letter and reads the very beginning: “Dear American Father.”
So, just a few pages into the book, a bomb has been dropped in the middle of their marriage. (Did I mention that they wanted to have children but couldn’t? How the letter makes him think “it was not his fault” and then he immediately feels like a monster for thinking it?) I really don’t want to give away too much… I’ll just say that the book did not just go where I thought it would, and I found it very interesting.
This Week in 1968: New York Times Bestsellers
#1 in Fiction: The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron
#1 in Non-Fiction: Rickenbacker by Edward V. Rickenbacker
#2. “Our Crowd”: The Great Jewish Families of New York by Stephen Birmingham (unavailable)
#3. Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert K. Massie
#4. Memoirs by George F. Kennan
#5. At Ease: Stories I Tell To Friends by Dwight D. Eisenhower