The Third Son
By Julie Wu
(Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, Hardcover, 9781616200794, 320pp.)
Publication Date: April 1, 2013
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In the middle of a terrifying air raid in Japanese-occupied Taiwan, Saburo, the least-favored son of a Taiwanese politician, runs through a peach forest for cover. It’s there that he stumbles upon Yoshiko, whose descriptions of her loving family are to Saburo like a glimpse of paradise. Meeting her is a moment he will remember forever, and for years he will try to find her again. When he finally does, she is by the side of his oldest brother and greatest rival.
Set in a tumultuous and violent period of Taiwanese history—as the Chinese Nationalist Army lays claim to the island and one autocracy replaces another—and the fast-changing American West of the late 1950s and early 1960s, The Third Son is a richly textured story of lives governed by the inheritance of family and the legacy of culture, and of a young man determined to free himself from both.
In Saburo, debut author Julie Wu has created an extraordinary character who is determined to fight for everything he needs and wants, from food to education to his first love. A sparkling and moving story, it will have readers cheering for a young boy with his head in the clouds who, against all odds, finds himself on the frontier of America’s space program.
"A boy growing up in Japanese-occupied Taiwan in the 1940s will do anything to escape his tormenting family and reconnect with his first love in this compelling work of fiction." (O: The Oprah Magazine)
“A stunningly pure and inspiring love story . . . Deeply compelling.” (The Boston Globe)
“Wu presents an alluring story that hits all the right emotional buttons and maintains readers’ empathy from the first page to the last.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“With great authority and skill, Wu depicts not just the grand events of the era, such as the Kuomintang (KMT)’s arrival in Taiwan and the brutal occupation that followed, but also the small, private moments of life . . . The Third Son should be the start of a very successful writing career for Julie Wu, and I hope she will not need long to write her next novel—I’m excited to read it.” (Fiction Writers Review)
“You may have read other Asian American historical novels, but you've never read anything like Julie Wu's affecting and emotional The Third Son. It's one of the don't-miss books of the year.” (Beth Fish Reads)