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Three Sisters

2.9  ·  Rating Details ·  410 Ratings  ·  77 Reviews

In a small village in China, the Wang family has produced seven sisters in its quest to have a boy; three of the sisters emerge as the lead characters in this remarkable novel. From the small-town treachery of the village to the slogans of the Cultural Revolution to the harried pace of city life, Bi Feiyu follows the women as they strive to change the course of their desti

Hardcover, 288 pages
Published August 9th 2010 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 2003)
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Apr 06, 2013 Althea rated it it was ok
This book teaches one a lot about life in China in the countryside during the Cultural Revolution years. It's written in three parts. The first two parts are interesting, suspenseful, dramatic. The third part made me want to throw the book away and never recommend it. It was boring and anti-climactic, and other than the fact a third sister was needed to round out the archetypal three, I would have been just as happy to have read a book called Two Sisters.
Nov 03, 2010 Felice rated it liked it
Village life anywhere has always been tough and China in 1971 is no different. The opportunities to get ahead are few and the collective judgment of the populace is swift and brutal. In The Three Sisters, the Wangs are The Family in their small Chinese village. Father Wang Lianfang is a Party Secretary and as a result the family's prominence is assured. At the novel's start the family has a new reason to celebrate. After seven daughters a son has finally been born. The satisfaction the Wangs hav ...more
Nov 21, 2016 Calzean rated it liked it
Three sister's stories out of a family of 7 girls and 1 boy. Why not a book called 7 sisters? Actually it was an interesting book of two sister's stories about life in rural China during the Cultural Revolution and a rather different story about the youngest story at teacher's college in the early 1980s.
The first two parts are interesting with the focus on the lack of rights women had, the importance of women keeping their virginity to marriage, the hypocrisy of men who can be sexual predators
Shivangi Tiwari
Aug 29, 2015 Shivangi Tiwari rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One can't figure out just by one read how accurate a portrayal this is, but one can certainly figure out that it's a riveting plot with wonderfully developed characters. I'd recommend it to everyone, I just wish it didn't end when it did.
Cathe Olson
Jun 28, 2010 Cathe Olson rated it liked it
This book tells the stories of three sisters in a Chinese family of seven sisters and one brother. The story of Yumi, the eldest sister was great. She was such an interesting character who took a stand against her father's philandering. This section of the book brought in the family dynamics and really showed how the village worked which was hilarious. That section gets 5 stars. The second section was about the third sister, Yuxio, who after being gang raped, wants to escape the gossip of the vi ...more
Sep 12, 2010 Lisa rated it it was ok
Shelves: other-asia
The narrative here just fell so flat. There was no life in the voice of this novel. I think this may be a reflection on the translation, and I don't necissarily mean that the translator did a lousy job. I'm just thinking that perhaps this particular novel just doesn't traslate. I mean, Chinese and English are like night and day. Maybe this novel just does not have the same oomph in an English translation. But whatever, it was just totally D.O.A. Oh, and almost all the women's names, and some of ...more
Let me first get one thing straight: this is not chick-lit. I saw a review of this book in which it was classified as such, but whoever wrote that about Three Sisters clearly did not get it, nor did he/she know much of the novel's historical background.
With that off my chest, I have to admit that I am not particularly enthusiastic about the book. Bi Feiyu attempt at a satiric, yet tragic portrayal of Chinese village life in the mid-70s (up to the 1980s) is a good one, but the bleakness and cruel
Rina Suryakusuma
Feb 10, 2016 Rina Suryakusuma rated it liked it
Cerita tentang keluarga Wang yang memiliki 7 anak perempuan, dan 1 bungsu lelaki.

Meet three sisters
Three characters from his novel!

Saudari pertama, Yumi - si bijaksana
Ceritanya kuat, walaupun narasinya di beberapa bagian terasa seperti garis lurus tanpa grafik naik turun.
Yumi adalah karakter yang sangat menarik. Sebagai gadis pertama keluarga Wang, Yumi memiliki kecerdikan, tekad dan keteguhan, seperti yang kemudian bisa kita lihat pada masa periode kejatuhan sang ayah

Mewujudkan apa yang kauras
Mar 06, 2015 Joanne added it
I honestly have no idea what number of stars to give this book as my views on at are so conflicting. On the one hand I loved it for the slice of life it showed me of China. It's certainly not something I've read about before if I've read anything about China it's always been set in Beijing or Shanghai so this was incredibly eye-opening and insightful.

However, each section finished abruptly without a climax or a conclusion. I know some writers prefer this style, indicating that life is going to c
Mar 18, 2011 Lisa rated it liked it
I read this book while I was away in Adelaide at the History Teachers Association Conference, and it was a bizarre experience to be spending the day discussing a 21st century curriculum for Australia while at night reading about such anachronistic ways of life in China.

Three Sisters won the Man Asian Literary Prize in 2010. It consists of three inter-related short stories, written in a blunt, often coarse style which (I assume) is meant to replicate or to mock the ‘earthiness’ of peasant life. I
Amy Hygge
Apr 19, 2015 Amy Hygge rated it did not like it
I read about half of this book before dropping it for good. it’s set during the cultural revolution in china, and the summary led me to believe that it was a feminist book about the solidarity between all of these sisters. it was misogynistic, pro-rape, and depicted all of the women as competitors who hated one another. I don’t think a single woman in this book had a real relationship with another woman that wasn’t dependent on competition and loathing. the narrator and the characters talk about ...more
Rashid Al gaoud
Mar 28, 2013 Rashid Al gaoud rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A story about the lives of three sisters in communist China in the 1980s; divided into three chapters, one per sister. The chapters felt like they were chopped out of a bigger novel as they don't seem to conclude properly. The last chapter felt like it came out of nowhere and went nowhere in particular and did not overlap with the previous two. Very little of the context is explained for those unfamiliar with the designations, the heirarchy and the structure of the community. Most of it went ove ...more
Sep 07, 2012 Joaquin rated it it was ok
Really good beginning and middle but really bad ending. Most of the third part talked about the school and the environment the third sister was in but like other reviewers, I felt that it was disconnected and strange. It ruined the book for me, especially when the first two parts were so good.
Hana Bilqisthi
Baca sepertiga buku demi memenuhi kuota baca group key reading. Hehe.
Tertarik karena sudah lama tidak baca cerita Tiongkok tapi sayangnya aku tidak cocok dengan kisah dalam buku ini.
A struggle.

This was a slow read - a really slow read! I found the writing style painfully awkward, possibly due to the translation, possibly due to the fact that this is a book written in a Chinese dialect for a Chinese audience. It just didn't seem to be going anywhere. Having said that, and having been to a book group to discuss the book, I now feel that, retrospectively, Three Sisters did have quite a lot to offer, I just needed help to interpret it.

Yumi, Yuxiu and Yuyang are the three sister
Rowena Tylden-Pattenson
I was pretty disappointed with this, for a number of reasons. I definitely think this could have been a much better book, but it just didn't take advantage of anything it set up.
The book followed the three sisters Yumi, Yuxiu and Yuyang through their lives, from rural China to the city. Although it started out slow, with the main focus at first being on their mother, then father, then finally Yumi, it wandered along nicely enough; I am unfamiliar with chinese literature, so anything was fairly i
Mar 11, 2015 Hai rated it really liked it





Mircalla64 (free Liu Xiaobo)
Oct 25, 2014 Mircalla64 (free Liu Xiaobo) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cina
tre donne cinesi ovvero come sopravvivere alla Madre Patria

le figlie femmine in Cina valgono poco si sa, non portano il nome della famiglia, c'è da farle il corredo, e alla fine vanno spose a servire la suocera e raramente tornano a casa, quindi nemmeno a pulire le tombe degli antenati sono buone...queste tre fanno quel che possono anche perchè sono fortunate appartenendo alla famiglia di un segretario di partito che non ha vincoli sul numero di figli e quindi possono sopravvivere al fatto di es
Katrina Tan
I have read quite a few Chinese authors and when it comes to sex, rape or any other sexual predation on women, they all seem to write it the same way - clinical, detached and wholly emotionless. I've wondered whether this was simply the style of Dai Sijie, Yu Hua, Ma Jian, Su Tong, and now Bi Feiyu, or simply the Chinese's approach to this.

Having not been able to read Wolf Totem (I just could not get past the first 4 pages), I was a little hesitant about this... I had wanted to read "The Moon Op
May 27, 2013 Lucy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, fiction, china
A really gripping read about, er, three sisters. It's set in China in the 1970s but what is immediately apparent is that for women, life and the way they are treated in Mao's China had not improved much since 'The Good Earth'. They are still bound by tradition, subject to malicisous gossip and jealousy, are considered ruined if they suffer rape and have to fight for recognition in a society that values boys and men far more.

What's especially good about the novel is that while they seek differen
Joseph Sverker
Well, I do not understand how this book could receive the Asian version of the Man Booker Prize. It is to me a badly written account of three sisters that is set in Communist China, but without making any use or giving any further insights of that society. It might possibly be that the account of the third sister gives the reader a little insight into what it might have been to be living in that time and that place and of course the first sister's story is placed in a setting where her life is p ...more
Kaj Peters
Feb 15, 2014 Kaj Peters rated it it was ok
Deze roman koppelt de afzonderlijke verhaallijnen van drie zussen met de culturele revolutie in China en de toen heersende ongelijkheid tussen mannen en vrouwen. Binnen de patriarchale orde zijn mannen alleen maar bezig om hun machtspositie te consolideren en vrouwen moeten zich in de meest vernederende bochten wringen om voor hun eigen rechten op te komen. De wrede ironie is dat wanneer de vrouwelijke personages hun doel bereikt lijken te hebben, zij te maken krijgen met de hypocrisie en de kle ...more
Apr 25, 2014 Vavita rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book has 3 stories, each about one sister. The first 2 stories were great. I actually dreamed about about the characters one night and wondered how they were doing when I woke up, before realizing they actually don't exist! The description of characters, their emotional roller coasters, the depiction of women's life in China, of their role in society, in work and in the family is perfect. If you enjoy to read about the Chinese culture and specially about women in China, you will like the 2/ ...more
Oct 18, 2011 Jodi rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Not sure
I picked this book up since I have read a lot about China. However, most of what I have read is about Imperial China where this book is set in 1970 so it is a more "modern" book about a family and the life of three sisters. It is almost like 3 short stories rather than a novel. The two sister's stories tie together and give two different points of view but the third one to me was completely separate from the others. I was shocked by the horrible names the sisters called each other but I wanted i ...more
Jan 03, 2012 Elizabeth rated it it was ok
I picked up this book as it was a very different genre to the books I usually read - I'm not familiar with Chinese fiction so I thought I'd give it a try. I should have gone for another book, to be honest. Very bleak, and very heavy.

The book, while it included some interesting history and had footnotes to explain proverbs and phrases along the way, it still made for very hard reading due to the subject matter. Rape, unwanted pregnancy, affairs, the mistreatment of women, even the handful of sex
Cara Schwarz
This well written (in my opinion) book tell the tale of three of seven sisters (first, third and seventh) in the 70s and 80s in rural China. The book has a mere three chapters and each one (about 100 pages a piece) deals with one of the sisters. Their heartbreaking stories are told in an innocent and raw manner and the author should be commended therefore. However, I found the book does not hang well together and was rather disappointed at the end. I found the book was rather a portrait of time ...more
Jun 27, 2013 Diana rated it it was amazing
Shelves: china
Poignant, harrowing, bleak but gripping...I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Bi Feiyu's fictional sisters Yumi, Yuxiu, and Yuyang each successively try to improve their lots in life - and in some cases, simply survive - when given very limited options and forced to face systemic sexism, manipulation, and abuse. "Women hold up half the sky," indeed! The translation is beautifully done and Bi Feiyu tells these country and city stories with nuance, fine historical detail, and attention to ...more
Jun 07, 2011 Lauren added it
So far I am enjoying this book despite the poor reviews so many people have posted. Another not-a-feel-good book...the first part is told from the perspective of one of three sisters and is very well done. I'm on the middle part, a narrative by another sister. The writing is sparse and clinical, in the way many Chinese translated novels can be.

Updated 6/9--about two thirds of the way through, it falls flat. The third sister is the weakest narrator and the ending just didn't work for me. I think
Jan 01, 2012 Heather rated it did not like it
I have always loved reading books about China and the culture and life there. However this book left me puzzled. What was the point? People in China have sex, too? People in China have affairs? I just didn't get it. Luckily it was a very quick read. I'd hate to have spent days or weeks on a book like this. The end--well, let's just say that the book did indeed end, but as for the story, it just cut off. I'm surprised at the praise this author has received. It doesn't make me want to read anythin ...more
Laura  Williams
Mar 19, 2011 Laura Williams marked it as to-read
I know that the difference between languages can be a challenge to the Western reader. I was introduced to China with the english books of Pearl S Buck (Pavillion of Woman was my first not the Oprah pick of "Good Earth") and her book "The Three Daughters of Madame" (I have completely forgotten the name and the books are packed up in transition to some new bookshelves..I will add later, with apologies to everyone) was very similar to the outline/structure of Bi Feiyu's work. I am looking forward ...more
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Bi Feiyu, born 1964 in Xinghua, Jiangsu, is a Chinese writer. He is a resident of Nanjing. His name, Feiyu, means "one who flies across the universe".

His works are known for their complex portrayal of the "female psyche." Feiyu's novel The Moon Opera (青衣), translated by Howard Goldblatt, was longlisted for the 2008 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, while Three Sisters (玉米 ,玉秀,玉秧), also translate
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“Lazy people need someone to depend on. Without that, they are condemned to live out their days in a dreary anticipation of death.” 0 likes
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