The eagerly awaited English translation of award-winning author Zhang Ling’s epic and intimate novel about the devastation of war, forgiveness, redemption, and the enduring power of love.
On the day of the historic 1945 Jewel Voice Broadcast—in which Emperor Hirohito announced Japan’s surrender to the Allied forces, bringing an end to World War II—three men, flush with jubilation, made a pact. After their deaths, each year on the anniversary of the broadcast, their souls would return to the Chinese village of their younger days. It’s where they had fought—and survived—a war that shook the world and changed their own lives in unimaginable ways. Now, seventy years later, the pledge is being fulfilled by American missionary Pastor Billy, brash gunner’s mate Ian Ferguson, and local soldier Liu Zhaohu.
All that’s missing is Ah Yan—also known as Swallow—the girl each man loved, each in his own profound way.
As they unravel their personal stories of the war, and of the woman who touched them so deeply during that unforgiving time, the story of Ah Yan’s life begins to take shape, woven into view by their memories. A woman who had suffered unspeakable atrocities, and yet found the grace and dignity to survive, she’d been the one to bring them together. And it is her spark of humanity, still burning brightly, that gives these ghosts of the past the courage to look back on everything they endured and remember the woman they lost.
“[A] unique premise of ghostly rendezvous among soldiers, combined with first loves for all three men…Clever use of newspaper accounts, military reports, and letters to loved ones advance the plot and complement the dialogue effectively and interestingly…superb…highly recommended.” —Historical Novel Society
“I am in awe of Zhang Ling’s literary talent. Truly extraordinary. In her stories, readers have the chance to explore and gain a great understanding of not only the Chinese mind-set but also the heart and soul.” —Anchee Min, bestselling author of Red Azalea
“Few writers could bring a story about China and other nations together as seamlessly as Zhang Ling. I would suggest it is her merit as an author, and it is the value of her novels.” —Mo Yan, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature
“[Zhang Ling] tackles a work of fiction as if it were fact…with a profound respect for historical truth as it impacts the real world, she successfully creates characters and stories that are both vivid and moving.” —Shenzhen and Hong Kong Book Review
“Zhang Ling’s concern for war and disaster has remained constant throughout the years as she delves deeply into human strength and tenacity in the face of extremely adverse situations.” —Beijing News Book Review Weekly
“[In this novel] we see not only the cruelty of war but also humans wrestling with fate…the novel blends the harsh reality of war seamlessly into the daily lives of the common people, weaving human destiny into the course of the war…A Single Swallow puts the novelist’s ability and talent on full display.” —Shanghai Wenhui Daily