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In the Lap of the Gods

3.54  ·  Rating Details  ·  79 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
"An important, even invaluable book, a moving farewell to the old, more humane way of life as China and all the world become technologized and globalized."—Maxine Hong Kingston

A dam rises on the Yangtze, uprooting a million lives in a government-made, modern environmental and human rights disaster, and a poor salvager who has lost everything finds an abandoned baby girl. A
Paperback, 300 pages
Published November 2nd 2010 by Leapfrog Press (first published October 21st 2010)
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(showing 1-30 of 224)
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Apr 06, 2011 Ellen rated it really liked it
I entered to win this on good reads because the cultural upheaval in China caused by the construction of the Three Gorges Dam is an interesting subject.I have found non fiction sources that better cover the flooding of historic sites and treasures due to the rising waters behind the dam. But this novel, told from the point of view of three or four main characters, addresses the more personal issue of relocation of large numbers of peasants from fertile riverside land to poor, rocky higher groun ...more
May 13, 2011 Julie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult-books
Liu is a widower living in an area of China that is slowly flooding as a result of the Three Gorges Dam being constructed on the Yangtze River. He has taken advantage of the flooding by becoming a scavenger. As people abandon their homes that are about to flood, he goes in to find anything of value that they may have left behind. One day, he finds a baby girl. He takes her to his broker, Fang Shuping, who says he’ll help Liu sell the baby. But when their trip is interrupted, Liu has a change of ...more
Dec 12, 2010 Suzanne rated it it was amazing
When I told a young Chinese student of my acquaintance that I was reading a novel about the Three Gorges dam, he told me that I wouldn't like China after finishing the book. He's right in that IN THE LAP OF THE GODS provides a less than flattering portrait of Chinese government and its corrupt bureaucrats. However, I felt a great deal of affection for Liu, a down-on-his-luck widower who has been reduced to scavenging houses abandoned by those fleeing the rising waters, and who adopts a foundling ...more
Mar 20, 2011 Tara rated it really liked it
Shelves: asian-literature
Engaging debut novel on an important subject, China's damming of the Yangtze River and the subsequent forced relocation of those living on its banks. Li does such a good job with her description, you feel like you are there as the water rises. Touching relationship between the main character and the abandoned baby he rescues. And no formulaic plot ending. I look forward to Li's next novel.
Feb 13, 2011 Gina rated it it was amazing
I feel privileged to have been able to read an entire draft of this particular novel and to have participated in the author's creative process. Li Miao Lovett has a voice that is both accessible and beautiful. Moreover, she has a story that stays with the reader for a long time after the last page has been turned.

So much contemporary literature written by Asian American women tends to demonize the Asian male. Li Miao Lovett instead celebrates the masculine Asian identity in this book. She has s
Feb 28, 2011 Reah rated it really liked it
it's a great story that weaves together Chinese traditions with rapid modernization... and gives us, the readers, an opportunity to think about how this growth (the building of the dam) affects the community, in turn, making an impact on the individuals within that community. On the one hand, this new alternative energy decrease the use of coals and saves hundreds of thousands of lives but then it displaced many from the only home they've known, where generations before them had lived.

The story
Harlan Lewin
Mar 13, 2011 Harlan Lewin rated it it was amazing
In the Lap of the Gods is the kind of book that John Steinbeck would have written about today’s China. Instead of the Great Dust Bowl tragedy and the tragic free market policies of the early Depression, we see in China the man-made suffering caused by the damming of the Yangtze River (begun in 1994), submerging of old towns, and the multiple curse of an authoritarian government and corrupt local bureaucrats and businessmen.
Author Li Miao Lovett truly individualizes and deeply probes the inevitab
Feb 01, 2013 Sarah rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2013

I had high hopes for this book. It opens with a man scavenging for odds and ends in a village on the banks of the Yangtze. The river is rising - the result of the new Three Gorges Dam - and as the water swirls about his ankles, he finds something valuable, indeed: a baby girl, abandoned like the village itself. This book is an ambitious allegory for the changes in China as a whole, but I feel it missed its mark. The storyline was long and meandering, the dialogue was just plain aw
Apr 08, 2015 Linell rated it really liked it
A story about villagers on the upper Yangtze who face relocation after the opening of the Three Gorges Dam. Some profit, at least temporarily, from the upheaval but most lose homes and their traditional way of life. In the end everyone suffers. The only bright spot is the relationship between the main character and the girl he finds abandoned in one of the villages.
Feb 22, 2012 Alice rated it really liked it
Past vs present in modern China - this time the past is composed not only of ancient Chinese values (honoring parents, being honest), but also Communist values (power to the peasants). The new China is not so good - all about money, power, corruption. A story that one hopes is not true; but does agree with news stories and other accounts I've read about modern China. The old wild west, in a bad way. The book showed all this very well, in the context of one man's life.
Jul 04, 2011 Tyra rated it liked it
This was a good solid 3 star book. I had a hard time in the beginning trying to figure out what the time period was. I was very surprised to find out that it was written for the current time period, I was thinking it was early 1900's (yes, I have no idea about China's history).

The story itself was interesting and the glimpse into the lives of the Chinese mindset was eye opening. I knew that they valued boys over girls, but to just abandon a baby still amazes me.
Bobby Norman
Jan 21, 2011 Bobby Norman rated it it was amazing
In the Lap of the Gods is the bitter and sweet. The bitter of the governmental indifference and "whims" of the gods. The sweet of love, both given and received. Li Miao Lovett has created a story that folds one into the other, flawlessly. One point three million people displaced and centuries of history destroyed. Years from now tongues will be clucked and lips pursed at the expense. Gaps in China's history are buried in the depths of the Three Gorges Dam.
May 26, 2011 Sally rated it it was ok
This novel is about the dam that was built in China to control the floods
Of the Yangtze River, which displaced thousands of people along the river in small villages. It mostly about a young man who finds an abandoned baby girl and adopts her. He cannot read or write, so is limited to low work. It's not one of the best books I have read on China, but definitely gives you a fairly accurate description of life there during this period.

Marianne Lonsdale
Feb 10, 2011 Marianne Lonsdale rated it it was amazing
Li Miao Lovett has created a captivating story with great characters. I have been interested in the destruction of the Three Gorges and this book makes the political and landscape changes into a personal story which is the way I learn best about changes in the world. Li's writing is just beautiful and the voice of the novel brought me into this culture that is foreign to me.
Apr 26, 2011 Andrea rated it really liked it
Shelves: up-lib-auth, china
Interesting book, but typically bland-ish - don't expect a happy ending. However, I did read one review that said this is what Steinbeck would have written if he'd written about China - and I agree. Crazy crap these folks have to deal with - relocation, massive government corruption, etc. Sort of eminent domain in hell. Makes me want to read more about the damming of the Yangtze.
May 14, 2011 Linda rated it it was ok
There are several editing mistakes in this book that made me wonder how it was shaped before publication. The story had some interesting parts, but there were so many holes in the story I felt as if the story itself wasn't loved quite enough to make it whole.
Feb 05, 2011 Gerry rated it really liked it
Really great book that tells the stories of peasants living around the Yangtze River in present day China. They struggle to deal with changing times and difficult lives in the face of modern society being forced into their lives by the government.
Oct 02, 2011 Kirsten rated it it was ok
Though the plot was engaging, the characters seemed a little flat. Maybe because there were too many of them. And, of course, it is hopeless and depressing. Is it illegal to write books with a bit of hope or happinessor humor????
Apr 07, 2011 Misstae rated it it was ok
Although the book was interesting, I feel like I was left wanting more and somewhat confused. I read the reviews prior to finishing the book and I feel like it just ended. Idk maybe I need to read it again
Aug 22, 2011 Kathryn rated it really liked it
China is transformed and the lives of the peasants are uprooted. Again, a book that helps me understand history through the stories of people involved.
Feb 10, 2011 Debbie rated it liked it
Chinese story about the largest dam in the world in China and a man who is displaced because of it.
Jul 07, 2011 Karen rated it it was ok
This was kind of slow & sort of depressing.
Apr 11, 2011 Helen rated it liked it
April's book club book...hummm
Nicola marked it as to-read
Jan 25, 2016
Kim Maysonet
Kim Maysonet rated it liked it
Jan 18, 2016
Melina Selverston-scher
Melina Selverston-scher rated it really liked it
Jan 15, 2016
Goodsellheller rated it it was amazing
Jan 02, 2016
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Li Miao Lovett began her writing career after a 600-mile backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail where she encountered a stalker, a compulsive poet, and ten thousand mosquitoes. Her time spent backpacking abroad and in the deserts of the American West has inspired her much of her writing. She has been a frequent contributor to the San Francisco Chronicle and KQED Perspectives. Her work has also ...more
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