Dreams of Joy

Novel by Lisa See


Dreams of Joy is a 2011 novel by Lisa See. It debuted as #1 in the New York Times list of best selling fiction. In this book See completes the circle she began in Shanghai Girls. The former novel ends with the suicide of Pearl’s husband Sam and the shattering discovery by Joy that May is really her mother, Pearl is her aunt, and Z.G., the famous Chinese artist, is her father. Joy's guilt-driven journey to China to find her father and Pearl's loving pursuit are placed in the context of the tumult and suffering of Mao's China—especially in the context of the horrific famine caused by Mao's misguided Great Leap Forward. Frank Dikotter writes that “at least 45 million people died unnecessarily between 1958 and 1962. . . As famine spread, the very survival of an ordinary person came increasingly to depend on the ability to lie, charm, hide, steal, cheat, pilfer, forage, smuggle, trick, manipulate or otherwise outwit the state.” See’s novel uses Mao’s China as her background, but her story focuses on the change and growth of her main characters – Pearl, Joy, Z.G., and May.

First Published


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