Five-star rating for tale of Chinese villagers' heroic act

NEW YORK • A month after the publication of Chinese-American writer Iris Yang's English novel, Wings Of A Flying Tiger, it has been well received by readers and book reviewers.

The book is now selling well in the United States.

"It is a heroic tale in which ordinary Chinese risked their lives to rescue and safeguard a downed American pilot in WWII in China," said Yang, adding that she based the book on the true experience of Tex Hill, the Flying Tigers member who was rescued by Chinese villagers.

The Flying Tigers, or the American Volunteer Group, was a band of about 300 pilots and ground staff who volunteered to help China fight invading Japanese troops before the US officially entered World War II.

The novel is framed in the summer of 1942, when Danny Hardy bails out of his fighter plane into a remote region of western China. With multiple injuries, malaria and Japanese troops searching for him, the American pilot's odds of survival are slim.

Jasmine Bai, an art student who had been saved by Americans during the Nanjing Massacre, seems an unlikely heroine to rescue the wounded Flying Tiger. Daisy Bai, her younger cousin, also falls in love with the American.

With the help of Daisy's brother, an entire village opens its arms to help the Flying Tiger heal, but the serenity of the community is shattered as a result.

"I like fiction writing, especially historical fiction. It allows me to create characters in a historical setting. I enjoy the process - learning the history and producing likable or hateful characters," Yang told BookGlow, a book promotion website.

It took her three months to finish the first draft and two more years to rewrite it.

Yang was born and raised in Wuhan, capital city of China's middle province, Hubei. She relocated to the US in the 1980s to study and settled down in North Carolina.

Her grandmother had studied in Britain and later became one of the most respected translators in China. This prompted Yang to pursue science and literature.

"Writing is hard. If you don't have a burning desire, don't do it. But if you are passionate about it, don't let anything or anyone stop you," said Yang on BookGlow.

The 254-page novel, published by Open Books, has won a five-star Average Customer Review on Amazon.

A sequel, Will Of A Flying Tiger, will be published at the end of this year.

"I'm working on a story based on my grandmother. My grandma's life was a mix of triumphs and tragedies. I'll try my best to write it down," said Yang.


•Wings Of A Flying Tiger ($29.34) is available at Books Kinokuniya.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 17, 2018, with the headline Five-star rating for tale of Chinese villagers' heroic act. Subscribe