Hilary Spurling

Hilary Spurling talks us through the inspiration behind her latest book, Burying the Bones: Pearl Buck. Having always been intrigued by the exotic China of small children with shaved heads, in floral tops, flying kites and fighting each other with scorpions which she read about as a child, Spurling was always fascinated by the country. Looking at China today, its modernity and inconceivable pace of change, she suggests it’s difficult to understand just how exotic it appeared before, in the world of her imagination. She claims it was Pearl Buck, the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature who was the individual most responsible for changing our perceptions of the Chinese from yellow-skinned, opium den-dwelling villains, to appreciating them as people, just the same as us. The reality of everyday Chinese life experienced by Buck (the village life, the flooding, the famine, the sex-trafficking and civil war) was told through her best-selling book The Good Earth.