From the Back Cover:
Though more than sixty years have passed since this remarkable novel won the Pulitzer Prize, it has retained its popularity and become one of the great modern classics. “I can only write what I know, and I know nothing but China, having always lived there,” writes Pearl Buck. In The Good Earth she presents a graphic view of a China when the last emperor reigned and the vast political and social upheavals of the twentieth century were but distant rumblings for the ordinary people. This moving, classic story of the honest farmer Wang Lung and his selfless wife O-Lan is must reading for those who would fully appreciate the sweeping changes that occurred in the lives of the Chinese people during the twentieth century.
The Good Earth was assigned reading for most of my friends somewhere in middle school or early high school, and I only ever heard them speak of it with dread, although that was all I heard them say about any of the books they had to read. For some reason or the other, though, I managed to avoid reading it during my grade school years. When it came time to approach this novel, though, I had some apprehensions stemming from the early negative feedback I heard about it, despite finding that I enjoyed many of the books I’d initially dismissed in grade school when I had the chance to go back and read them without the label “homework” or the pressure to finish them before I was tested over them. These initial apprehensions soon fell apart as I read the book and was caught up in the life of Wang Lung, the poor Chinese farmer.
The story itself follows and old clichéd pattern: the poor protagonist, through hard work and a little bit of luck, pulls himself up out of poverty to a life of wealth and luxury. But despite the use of an otherwise overused trope in storytelling, The Good Earth is still fresh and engrossing, and provides a look at a culture that was otherwise unknown to most Americans who read this book in the early 1930s.