Date of this Version
Violets is a multi-genre work that explores the complex relationships of Chinese women from the 1980s to the present day as they move through different settings—from the countryside of Zhejiang province, to the metropolis of Jiaxing city, to the suburbia of Omaha, NE. It was inspired by a story heard by the author about a Chinese woman whose husband left her for a year because she had a daughter instead of a son. Half of Violets is made up of a sustained, imagined story about a woman named Xinling and the year she spent as a single mother. It explores her day-to-day life, her tense relationship with her mother-in-law, her complex feelings toward her absent husband, and the societal and cultural expectations and context of 1980’s China. The other half of Violets is made up of personal vignettes told from the point of view of the author, a Chinese-American immigrant, belonging to the generation following Xinling’s. The vignettes mainly focus on lessons and lies from her family stories, centering on the inherited oppression of Chinese women by the older generation. The unconventional back-and-forth format of the work attempts to convey both parallels and differences between the two stories, in hopes of finding an understanding and deeper truth through both fiction and nonfiction.