Literature

The Confucian Serenity of Pearl Buck

Few could name the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Or know that her native tongue for forty years was Chinese. Born in the US to American parents, Pearl Buck experienced China like no native-born white American or Australian before her. Back in 1971, Buck wrote me a courteous letter via the Atlantic Monthly. At eighty, having devoured two articles on China I wrote in that magazine, Buck invited me to Vermont, where she lived amidst beautiful hills. President Nixon’s China trip to meet Mao had been announced for February 1972. She hoped to be present, three decades and a Nobel Prize after…

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