For Yily it doesn't take long for her romantic dreams to come crashing around her head as she is caught up in the idealistic struggle between the wealth the tourism has brought to these poverty stricken villages and the need to preserve and sanctify the way of life of the Mosuo people. Despite conflicting information all around her, though, Yily is determined to cling onto her dreams and romantic notions and to ultimately prove her point to the doubters. Staying among the Mosuo, at the Daughter's Inn, she will meet and interact with some who confirm her beliefs and some who downright repudiate them.
Firstly, I want to say about this book; what a breath of fresh air it is to read a book about another culture and to be able to explore and develop the characters in this fascinating story of a clash of culture and technology. As a westerner, it is easy to assume Chinese to be an homogeneous peoples - Chinese are Chinese, right? But, of course, that is far from the truth. Although the ethnic Han's are the predominant population and hold the majority of power in China, there are many pockets of ethnicity all over the massive landmass that is modern-day China. Of particular fascination for me, was the juxtaposition of a centuries-old Buddhist way of life, with the stripped down and austere philosophy of Mao's communism, which still runs deep in all of Chinese society.
Author Bijou Li has created a beautifully written story that uses its characters to explore the many tensions simmering under the surface, as these two very distinct and polar opposite cultures clash. The characters Yily, Xiaxia, and Dashi (a well-meaning US-born, Chinese student, studying the Mosuo people) all provide wonderful attitudinal counterpoints with each other to keep the tension high and the narrative fascinating. My only complaint would be that this is only Volume one of the story and I am now so invested in these characters that I must now read Volumes 2 & 3. I'm not sure I can pay the author a higher compliment than to say, I will undoubtedly read the rest of this story.
This is one of the best books I've read so far this year (mind you it is only January) but I suspect come the end of the year awards season, I will look back at this title and smile. It is a simple, sweet, story with a powerful message about the clash of cultures and for that reason alone, it is well worth the read. I highly recommend; Country of Daughter: Volume 1: Daughters Inn.