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The Foremost Good Fortuneby Susan Conley
Synopses & Reviews
Susan Conley, her husband, and their two young sons say good-bye to their friends, family, and house in Maine for a two-year stint in a high-rise apartment in Beijing, prepared to embrace the inevitable onslaughtof new experiences that such a move entails. But Susan can't predict just how much their lives will change.
While her husband is consumed with his job, Susan works on finishing her novel andconfronting the challenges of day-to-day life in an utterly foreign country: determining the proper way to buy apples at a Chinese megamarket; bribing her little boys to ride the school bus; fielding invitations tomysterious sweater parties and tracking down the faux-purse empire of the infamous Bag Lady; and getting stuck in an elevator, unable to call for help in Mandarin.
Despitethe distractions, there are many occasions for joy. From road trips to the Great Wall and bartering for a starter Buddha at the raucous flea market to lighting fireworks in the streets forthe Chinese New Year and feasting on the world's best dumplings in back-alley restaurants, they gradually turn their unfamiliar environs into a true home.
Then Susan learns she has cancer. After undergoing treatment in Boston, she returns to Beijing, again as a foreigner-but this time, it's her own body in which she feels a stranger. Set against theeternally fascinating backdrop of modern China and full of insight into the trickiest questions of motherhood-How do you talk to children about death? When is it okay to lie?--this wry andpoignant memoir is a celebration of family and a candid exploration of mortality and belonging.
From the Hardcover edition.
A co-founder of Maine's Telling Room non-profit writing center describes the experiences she shared with her family while living in Beijing, recounting her navigation of a Chinese mega market and her two sons' early educational years before her cancer diagnosis forced confrontations with more challenging cultural and mortality issues.
When Susan Conley moves with her family to Beijing, she can't imagine how much their lives will change. While Tony, her husband, is consumed with his job, Susan confronts a host of perplexing firsts: determining the proper way to shop at a Chinese megamarket, bribing her two young sons to ride the school bus, and getting stuck in a highrise elevator, unable to call for help in Mandarin. Despite the difficulties, there is much occasion for joy in their lives, from trips to the Great Wall and bartering for a starter Buddha at the raucous flea market to feasting on the world's best dumplings in back-alley restaurants.
Then Susan learns she has cancer. After treatment in Boston, she returns to Beijing, again as a foreigner--this time to her own body. Set against the eternally fascinating backdrop of modern China and full of insight into the trickiest questions of motherhood--How do you talk to children about death? When is it okay to lie?--this wry and poignant memoir is a candid look at mortality and belonging as well as a celebration of family.
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
\Susan Conley lived in Beijing for more than two years, and returned to Portland, Maine, with her husband and two sons in December 2009. She is cofounder and executive director of the Telling Room, a writers’ workshop and literary hub for the region. She was an associate editor at Ploughshares and has led creative writing seminars at Emerson College in Boston. Her work has been published in The New York Times Magazine as well as The Paris Review, Harvard Review, Ploughshares, and other literary magazines. She is currently working on a novel and settling back into life in the States.
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