"To Where the Flowers Blossom"

A Novel by Sun Wei


To Where the Flowers Blossom is an autobiographical novel, constructed in the form of a travelogue.

It tells the story of a friendship between a Beijing documentary photographer and a Shanghai writer. The documentary photographer, knowing he was seriously ill, wanted to give up his treatment. He would rather take out all his saving and go to the borders of Yunnan and Tibet so as to shoot a documentary that he had always been dreaming about. The writer tried to persuade him out of his plans, but failed. She then asked him for a meal before he should set off. He called her a day before his departure and asked if she could make the date at noon the next day, because he had meant to set off in the evening. After traveling some 1,643 kilometers overnight by train from Shanghai, she arrived in Beijing early the next day morning. She met him for lunch on time.

From that day on, he disappeared like raindrops vanishing in hot summer days. No one knew where he was, or whether he was still alive or not.

Time was passing quickly and even the coldest days when mountain paths were closed by snow in winter had gone by. However, she kept faith with him, insisting that he was still somewhere in this world.

It was a custom between them to keep a watch on each other’s soul when the other went on a long journey. Like the two ends of a rope, if one end was falling down, the other would be pulled into darkness as well.

So when she could no longer feel him, she made up her mind to leave Shanghai again. This time, following his tracks, she took on a journey searching for him into the depth of the wild mountains and the edges of the remote forests. She hoped, somewhere on the way, she could meet with him again and get to see the familiar smile on his face.

Setting off on a journey is, of course, to look for something. Sometimes, it brings the hearts closer as it reveals the truth of life. Other times, a day lived is a day spent with the strangers we come across along the way without knowing what difference a day makes.

This novel demonstrates a hard, but romantic, living status of people born in 1970-1979 of China, a sensitive portrayal of the soul of the 70s generation. Known as “China’s last idealists”, the 70s generation received Confucian education, only to see most of the traditional values disintegrated as China is marching towards a more commercial society. Growing up in a period of radical social transition, they are destined to wrestle with the daily reality while, on the other hand, they can never stop searching for the Soul.

In this novel, Sun Wei creates an intimate portrayal of the pursuit, efforts and loss, dreams and dignity of her generation. Her sentimental and poetic style has greatly moved Chinese readers.