Beyond FASCINATION: Lisa See Interview on The Elegant Variation
Plus there’s the book, which has just been added to my monstrous TBR list. As Daniel Olivas notes: “Peony in Love is based on the true 17th-century Chinese story of three ‘lovesick maidens’ who were married to the same man—one right after the other. They wrote the first book of its kind to have been written and published by women anywhere in the world. When asked to describe the novel, See observes that ‘ultimately, Peony in Love is about the bonds of female friendship, the power of words, the desire that all women have to be heard, and finally those emotions that are so strong that they transcend time, place, and perhaps even death.’ She adds: ‘I’ve written it as a ghost story.’”
Admit now that you’re intrigued as hell and I’ll completely understand. Cultural identity is such a huge topic for Lisa See as a person and a writer:
“I never thought too much about my identity. Who does, after all? But after I wrote On Gold Mountain, people started to ask me—and still do—‘What are you, Chinese or American?’ I know that because of how I look, I will always be seen as a bit of an outsider in [L.A.’s] Chinatown, but to me it’s home. It’s what I know. The same can be said for when I got to China. To me, it’s just a bigger Chinatown—very familiar and comfortable, but again, because of how I look I’ll always be considered an outsider. Then when I’m out in the larger white community in the United States, I look like I belong but sometimes I don’t feel like I do. That world can seem strange and foreign to me. So in writing these books I’m also trying to figure out who I am. Where do I fit in? Here, there, anywhere, nowhere? This quest doesn’t make it into the plots of the books. It’s just a journey I’m on as a person. But I’m not unique in this. Aren’t we all trying to figure out where we belong to some degree or another?”
Enough said. To read the entire TEV interview, go here. Thanks, Mark!