A story about a farming family in rural China, "The Good Earth" is studded with the harrowing experiences the Wang family endures throughout their lives on a soil that seems to yield only hunger and neglect, compounded by an increasingly contemptuous society in the midst of a revolution. So why read it? The characters are infuriatingly human. The wife is a perpetual slave who takes her suffering as a matter of course, but even after things begin to look up she is unable to be anything more than a slave and dies of a broken heart when her husband brings home another companion. After all they went through together I half-expected and wholly desired for her to put her foot down, because she is perfectly capable of doing so, but her nurture compels her to tuck herself away and die quietly like a dog under the porch. The husband, Lung, is a good, hardworking man who only realizes her value after she is gone. Set in the 1900s, "The Good Earth" was written after Buck's experiences in China, published in 1931, and won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1938.
A Chinese peasant overcomes the forces of nature and the frailties of human nature to become a wealthy landowner.