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February Flowers

February Flowers

  • reading group guide
Set in modern China, February Flowers tells the stories of two young women's journeys to self-discovery and reconciliation with the past.

Seventeen-year-old Ming and twenty-four-year-old Yan have very little in common other than studying at the same college. Ming, idealistic and preoccupied, lives in her own world of books, music, and imagination. Yan, by contrast, is sexy but cynical, beautiful but wild, with no sense of home. When the two meet and become friends, Ming's world is forever changed. But their differences in upbringing and ideology ultimately drive them apart, leaving each to face her dark secret alone.

Insightful, sophisticated, and rich with complex characters, February Flowers captures a society torn between tradition and modernity, dogma and freedom. It is a meditation on friendship, family, love, loss, and redemption and how a background shapes a life.
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  • Washington Square Press | 
  • 256 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416549437 | 
  • August 2007
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Reading Group Guide

Introduction
Set in modern China, February Flowers tells the stories of two young women's journeys to self-discovery and reconciliation with the past.
Seventeen-year-old Ming and twenty-four-year-old Yan have very little in common other than studying in the same college. Ming, idealistic and preoccupied, lives in her own world of books, music, and imagination. Yan, by contrast, is sexy but cynical, beautiful but wild, with no sense of home. When the two meet and become friends, Ming's world is forever changed. But their differences in upbringing and ideology ultimately drive them apart, leaving each to face her dark secret alone.
Insightful, sophisticated, and rich with complex characters, February Flowers captures a society torn between tradition and modernity, dogma and freedom. It is a meditation on friendship, family, love, loss, and redemption, and how a background shapes a life.
Questions and Topics for Discussion
1. The narrator of February Flowers begins her tale with the words "After my marriage ends ..." (page 1) situating the reader in the midst of her life, akin to beginning "Hansel and Gretel" in the midst of their search for bread crumbs, trying to find their way home. Why do you think Ming chooses to begin her story in the middle and not at the beginning or even at the end? What does it tell us about the kind of story that we are about to be told? What effect does it have on us as readers?
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About the Author

Fan Wu
Photograph by Mattias Cedergren

Fan Wu

Fan Wu grew up on a state-run farm in southern China, where her parents were exiled during the Cultural Revolution. Her debut novel, February Flowers, has been translated into eight languages, and her short fiction, besides being anthologized and nominated for the Pushcart Prize, has appeared in Granta, The Missouri Review, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. Wu holds an M.A. from Stanford University and currently lives in Santa Clara, California. Please visit her website at www.fanwuwrites.com.

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