Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
Nobel Prize winner Buck's (1892-1973) classic novel earned her a Pulitzer Prize for its timeless portrait of family members confronting change and one another. Wang Lung, a farmer caring for his aged father in prerevolutionary 1920s China, begs a bride from the wealthy House of Hwang nearby. The matriarch gives him O-Lan, a kitchen slave thought "somewhat slow and stupid." But O-Lan's ingenuity helps the couple's hard work gain them prosperity, children, and land. Yet, as the pair age, political and social upheavals interacting with all--too-human desires disrupt their lives and marriage. Worse, Wang's sons do not love the land as he does. Bertozzi's scratchy realism spotlights the characters and their emotions, with just enough scene-setting for context. The limited colors-putty-pinkish and blue with red accents-give surprising scope for emphasis. VERDICT The focus on characters lets readers see Wang as Everyman and O-Lan as Everywoman across history. This sensitive adaptation makes the novel come alive for new readers, with likely appeal for fans of historical dramas such as Downton Abbey.-MC © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
Bertozzi (Lewis and Clark) is a veteran of historical comics, and his adaptation of Buck's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is wordy but deeply effective. The art is simple, with borderless panels, thick black brush strokes, and monochrome gray shading capturing the hard life of the cast. Set before WWI, the novel tells the intimate story of a Chinese farmer's life from his wedding to his death. Wang Lung's fortunes rise and fall dramatically in changing political climates he is scarcely aware of. His marriage to the former house slave O-Lan is followed by the birth of two sons and several successful harvests. Then come years of drought and famine. The upheaval drives them to the city, where they snatch what they can from the ruins following a riot. But wealth doesn't lead them to peace or happiness. Buck's story, a massive bestseller in its day, has been mostly consigned to the bins of dusty classics, but Bertozzi's version gives it a sharp update. Agent: Charlie Olsen, Inkwell Management. (July) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Award-winner Bertozzi turns his attention to Pearl Buck's Pulitzer Prize-winning modern classic. Set in China during the early twentieth century, Buck's cautionary tale follows the life of Wang Lung, a poor farmer who uses a small plot of land to slowly build a massive amount of wealth, property, and power during his lifetime. His happiness and gratitude, so abundant in his early life, is lost in direct proportion to gains in power as he becomes increasingly dissatisfied with his lot. It is not until Wang Lung nears the end of his life that he remembers the simple times of his youth, when the earth provided him with everything he needed. Drawing from Buck's original text, Bertozzi combines portions of narrative and dialogue and stark black-and-white illustrations. The sequential artwork is straightforward, illustrating rather than illuminating the text, but the pen-and-ink drawings are done in a loose, painterly style that echoes the darkness of the story line. Best for general adult collections, especially where graphic adaptations of classics are popular.--Hayes, Summer Copyright 2017 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
Illustrator Bertozzi (Becoming Andy Warhol, 2016, etc.) adapts Buck's (The Eternal Wonder, 2013, etc.) Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of a man's fluctuating fortunes and existential crises in early-20th-century China.For years, farmer Wang Lung has worked the soil, pulling forth bountiful harvests, and now the sale of his excess crops has funded a fateful purchase: a slave from the great house in town to be his wife. O-lan quickly proves invaluable: cooking fancy cakes like those she served to the local lord and lady, sewing clothes, and working the fields alongside her husband, stopping only to bear children. O-lan's steady hand helps during high times, when Wang Lung purchases land from the great house, and during low, when famine drives the family south to a big city where they live as beggars and Wang Lung runs a rickshaw. On the streets, Wang Lung witnesses class tensions that boil over into a riotduring which O-lan manages to multiply their fortune. Once settled back on the land and having grown prosperous, the family faces the struggles of the nouveau riche: a son ashamed of their bumpkin roots, Wang Lung's discontent with his plebeian wife driving him to take a concubine, fears of good fortune being snatched away by jealous spirits (or family members). The half-dozen or so borderless panels per page propel the story along, flowing in brief scenes of survival, domesticity, society, and legacy. Bertozzi beautifully distills Buck's text into poignant snippets, zeroing in on details such as the anguished clench of O-lan's fingers as she bears the news that Wang Lung is pursuing another woman. The black-on-gray chiaroscuro lends the work an engraved look, perfectly capturing the story's timeless subject matter while also underscoring the antiquity of the depicted world, where women are slaves. Even within this foreign worldview, Buck and Bertozzi convey rich moral complexity and universal concerns. A finely rendered showcase for a classic tale. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.