Sometimes a book is offered to me for review and I am devastated I can’t fit it in to my reading schedule. When I saw Iris Yang’s book I just had to invite her on to Linda’s book Bag to tell me all about it.
Staying in with Iris Yang
Thank you so much for staying in with me Iris and welcome to Linda’s Book Bag. Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?
I’ve brought along Wings of a Flying Tiger, my first full-length novel just published by Open Books. It is a heroic tale in which ordinary Chinese risked their lives to rescue and safeguard a downed American pilot in WWII in China.
I’m proud to share it because not only it is important, but also I learned along the way that I could do the “impossible” and dreams do come true when one works hard enough.
(Oh. Interesting thought. Tell me more.)
You see, I was born and raised in China. Although I’ve always loved reading and writing, creative writing was a dangerous career in China. As famous writers and translators, my grandmother and her aunt were wrongfully accused as counter-revolutionary Rightists. I had to choose a safer path—studying science. At age 23, with poor English, little knowledge of the country, and 500 borrowed dollars, I came to the US as a graduate student. Later, I received a Ph.D. in molecular biology and published a number of scientific papers. Yet the passion for creative writing never died, and I worked slowly, but steadily toward the goal.
(Wow. That’s quite a story. You must be so proud of your achievements Iris. China is a country I have yet to visit and I think Wings of a Flying Tiger would be perfect for me as I love books that can transport me to another time and place.)
What can we expect from an evening in with Wings of a Flying Tiger?
Most people in the US are familiar with what happened in WWII in Europe, but not many know what happened in China. Japanese troops were brutal beyond words. For instance, during Nanking Massacre, they killed 300,000 Chinese civilians and surrendered soldiers in six weeks. For months the streets of Nanking were heaped with corpses and reeked with the stench of rotting human flesh. It was horrible. And my story starts here.
(Crikey. That’s quite a starting point!)
In 1941, under President Roosevelt’s executive order, the American Volunteer Group (the Flying Tigers) was formed, and it aided the Chinese against Japanese forces. The AVG pilots’ brave exploits led the way to victories in China, in the Pacific Theater, and ultimate triumph of the Allied Forces in WWII.
I’m a big fan of the Flying Tigers. What is a better way to say thank-you than writing a book about them? Although the story of the Flying Tigers has been a fascinating topic for over seventy years, most of the books were nonfiction written from the perspective of the pilots. Wings of a Flying Tiger is a rescue story from the points of view of both the airman and the Chinese who saved him.
This book is a work of fiction. But to me, a Chinese-American, it is also personal. As a Chinese, I’m thankful for the Flying Tigers’ bravery and sacrifice; without their help, the course of the Chinese history might have been changed, my family might not have survived, and I might not have existed. As a U.S. citizen, I’m honored to write a book about the American heroes. It’s a privilege. A duty.
(I think Wings of a Flying Tiger sounds fabulous Iris. I think I’m going to have to find space for it after all!)
What else have you brought along and why?
I’ve brought along a photo of the Flying Tigers’ airplane. The “shark” teeth painted on the noses of the aircraft were there for a psychological reason. An island nation, Japan was believed to be afraid of shark attacks. The Chinese people who saw the planes were not familiar with sharks, but they knew how strong and powerful a tiger could be. So they called the courageous American pilots Fei Hu—a tiger with wings—the Flying Tigers.
It has been a real privilege to stay in with you and find out more about Wings of a Flying Tiger. Thanks so much for being here Iris. I wish you every, well deserved, success.
Wings of a Flying Tiger
World War Two. Japanese occupied China. One cousin’s courage, another’s determination to help a wounded American pilot.
In the summer of 1942, Danny Hardy bails out of his fighter plane into a remote region of western China. With multiple injuries, malaria, and Japanese troops searching for him, the American pilot’s odds of survival are slim.
Jasmine Bai, an art student who has been saved by Americans during the notorious Nanking Massacre, seems an unlikely heroine to rescue the wounded Flying Tiger. Daisy Bai, Jasmine’s younger cousin, also falls in love with the courageous American.
With the help of Daisy’s brother, an entire village opens its arms to heal a Flying Tiger with injured wings, but as a result of their charity the serenity of their community is forever shattered.
Love, sacrifice, kindness, and bravery all play a part in this heroic tale that takes place during one of the darkest hours of Chinese history.
About Iris Yang
Iris Yang (Qing Yang) was born and raised in China. She has loved reading and writing since she was a child, but in China creative writing was a dangerous career. As famous writers and translators, her grandmother and her aunt were wrongfully accused as counter-revolutionary Rightists, so Iris had to choose a safer path—studying science.
After graduating from Wuhan University and passing a series of exams, she was accepted by the prestigious CUSBEA (China-United States Biochemistry Examination and Application program). At age 23, with poor English, little knowledge of the country, and 500 borrowed dollars, she came to the United States as a graduate student at the University of Rochester.
Later, she received a Ph.D. in molecular biology, trained as a postdoctoral fellow at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and worked at the University of North Carolina. Although she has published a number of scientific papers, she has a passion for creative writing, and her short stories have won contests and have been published in anthologies. Currently, Iris is working on a story based on her grandmother, who was the first Chinese woman to receive a master’s degree in Edinburgh in the UK. Iris now lives between Sedona, Arizona and Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Besides writing, she loves hiking, dancing, photography, and travel.
You can follow Iris on Twitter: @IrisYang86351.