Reviews and Media

“Few writers could bring a story about China and other nations together as seamlessly as Zhang Ling. I would suggest it is her merit as an author, and it is the value of her novels.”

—Mo Yan, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature

An in-depth video review of Aftershock by Willow Talks Books.

Author Zhang Ling talks about her 1st English work Where Water Meet @TorontoLitUp (1)

Author Zhang Ling talks about her 1st English work Where Water Meet @TorontoLitUp (2)

Toronto FM105.9 HD3 Chinese radio’s interview on Where Waters Meet

Zhang Ling talks about her debut English novel Where Waters Meet.

The trailer for China’s first Imax movie Aftershock based on Zhang Ling’s novella.

Zhang Ling’s feature article in the Irish Times on poverty, trauma and writing.

Zhang Ling speaks at Singapore Writers Festival (in Chinese).

Intralingo World Lit Podcast Spotlight on A Single Swallow.

Reviews for Aftershock

Chicago Book Review
Chicago Book Review
Read More
"A lyrical, emotionally intense experience of the 1976 earthquake in Tangshan, China, and the agonizing aftermath, Aftershock: A Novel is a sharp and complex novel by Zhang Ling, translated by Shelly Bryant...Aftershock is a beautifully executed novel, with distinct characters that readers will not soon to forget."
Midwest Book Review
Midwest Book Review
Read More
Original, impressively eloquent, inherently interesting, and a memorably riveting read from start to finish, "Aftershock" by Zhang Ling is a saga style novel that is ably translated into English for an American readership by Shelly Bryant. ‘Aftershock’ will hold a particular interest for fans of deftly crafted family stories of personal loss and ultimate redemption and that are raised to the highest levels of literary fiction."
Booklist
Booklist
Read More
"Translated from Chinese, award-winning author Zhang's latest book traces the fractures of Xiaodeng's past and present, weaving in vignettes from her mother, brother, and husband to craft a multigenerational saga. This beautiful, quietly profound story examines the resilience and fragility of humans in the face of disaster. But at its heart, AFTERSHOCK is about family and how we protect the ones we love."
World Translations Review
World Translations Review
Read More
"At the heart of this chronicle is a family, disrupted by the earthquake and its aftermath. The tenderness with which Ling has developed her characters, their beliefs, flaws, hope and pain carries a sentiment that shapes a family history – a chronicle of trauma...AFTERSHOCK connects not only pieces of a tragic event of history, but also makes them unforgettable by bringing forth human emotions, that suffer, endure, hope and wait to make peace with life.
Bookalong
Bookalong
Read More
"An emotional gut punch!...exploring hope and guilt and the healing power of family and reconnection of cultural roots. Though this is told in a non-linear style, in Zhang Ling's masterful storytelling hands, everything connected wonderfully...highly recommend."
Scott J. Pearson
Scott J. Pearson
Read More
"Ling is clearly comfortable with both Canadian and Chinese cultures and moves readers seamlessly across both settings. She reminds us that despite our differences, all too amplified by politicians and journalists, our common humanity unites us in the most important ways. Lovers of literary fiction will love this complicated, ornate story whose pieces form a beautiful whole."
Literary Quicksand
Literary Quicksand
Read More
"[AFTERSHOCK is] about the power of family connections, even when they’re violently torn apart. I found the whole story to just be beautiful and poignant, and I loved sitting down to read it. If you love sinking into family stories with a lot of grief but also a lot of beauty, definitely pick up AFTERSHOCK".
Enchanted Prose
Enchanted Prose
Read More
"The emotionality of Aftershock may be the closest a non-psychologist/psychiatrist reader gets to understanding the mental anguish of a deeply-rooted, complex psychological illness: post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD....Ling’s piercing prose and storytelling deeply moves us, displaying why she’s been awarded multiple, prestigious Chinese literature prizes.....the novel is a triumph, too, offering hope and healing through artful fiction."
Willow Talks Books
Willow Talks Books
Read More
"Incredibly addictive. Incredibly immersive. And emotionally exhausting in a good way. I'm amazed by AFTERSHOCK, truly. I think it's a remarkable piece of fiction. A wonderful Chinese novel, and I really need you to check it out."

Reviews for WHERE WATERS MEET

San Francisco Book Review
San Francisco Book Review
Read More
“A powerful narrative from a stark period of history, Ling writes vividly of the mother-daughter bond, as well as dealing with a mother’s inevitable decline and loss. Most especially, Ling explores not understanding our mothers and their history before they became “mom.” She writes of the brutality we share and what we keep hidden, and the extremes mothers will go to for their children.”
Asian Review of Books
Asian Review of Books
Read More
“In reading WHERE WATERS MEET, it’s difficult to understand why Zhang Ling has not published in English until now. Her prose flows as smoothly as the water in the title. For English readers, one can hope this is the start of a new chapter in Zhang Ling’s writing career.”
Booklist
Booklist
Read More
“This emotional and heartbreaking novel is a tale of courage, survival, and human resilience in the face of war and repression. Ling's emotional story of a mother-daughter relationship will appeal to readers of Amy Tan, Xinran, and Jung Chung.”
Authorlink
Authorlink
Read More
“…a masterfully composed novel that will leave you breathless until the end.”
Jianan Qian
Jianan QianThe O.Henry Prize winner and staff writer at The Millions
Read More
“Where Waters Meet brings us back to the turbulent decades in China where people fought one war after another, suffered famine, and endured political persecutions. However, instead of focusing on misery, Zhang Ling introduces us to those who defy their fates. They are brave enough to try sneaking across the border, determined enough to adopt a foreign tongue, and kind enough to care for their families no matter what. A true masterpiece filled with idiosyncratic yet admirable characters, suspenseful mystery, historical complexity, and ironic humor.” 
Asia Media International
Asia Media International
Read More
“Where Waters Meet, through a combination of detailed explorations and reexaminations of memory, describes a daughter discovering the intricacies of her mother’s past. Spanning seven decades, the story is steeped in cultural and personal histories. Ling expertly delivers this tale, investigating the relationship between the water we are asked to be and the blood that we indeed are...Where Waters Meet is a must-read for anyone looking for a heart-wrenching and profoundly provocative examination of the emotional turmoil undergone by people who are most often pushed to society’s darkest corners. Women, their children, and those who slip through the cracks: their stories are often told by what remains unspoken. Between glances, bandages, and outstretched hands, Where Waters Meet is a unique look into human courage and perseverance, carrying stories that should be known to everyone willing to read them.” 
Paul Brinkley-Rogers
Paul Brinkley-RogersPulitzer Prize-winning journalist and veteran war correspondent
Read More
”Zhang Ling has written a gripping, epic novel in which Phoenix, a Chinese immigrant leading a comfortable life in Toronto with her Canadian physician husband, suddenly realizes after her mother dies that she knows little about the lives of her parents. She is overcome by an irresistible urge to know more, but she is also strangely fearful… What follows next in this beautifully written story are a series of startling revelations that enable Phoenix to appreciate intimately for the first time the struggles her extraordinary mother and dutiful father went through during modern China’s turbulent past. This is the author’s tenth book. But it is the first book she wrote in English, a remarkable achievement because the flavor, the sounds, the spirit of what it means to be Chinese, rings true.”
Mingwei Song
Mingwei Songpoet and Professor and Chair of East Asian Languages and Cultures, Wellesley College
Read More
“Reading WHERE WATERS MEET is like peeling the onion: after layers of layers of sorrows, pains, regrets, what you find at the heart of the novel is poignant but also an epiphany. Tragedies make the purest out of bare life: endurance, persistence, compassion. Zhang Ling’s first novel written in English is not a typical Chinese romance; it is a miracle testifying to the strength of womanhood, and the narrative itself is a miracle too, a delicately arranged puzzle leading to the heart of love and darkness. A page-turner, Zhang’s novel shines with cinematic splendor and unfolds a haunting story about home and exile, trauma and sacrifice, despair and hope, and most importantly, mother and daughter.”
Devi S. Laskar
Devi S. Laskarauthor of The Atlas of Reds and Blues and Circa
Read More
“A stunning, gorgeous novel. Zhang Ling’s WHERE WATERS MEET is haunting and heartbreaking as it navigates mother-daughter relationships in the face of war and famine. I simply couldn’t put it down.” 
Xinran
Xinraninternational best-selling author of The Good Women of China and The Promise 
Read More
“I love this novel. It is an intriguing and moving story of a Chinese family who have survived terrible wartime sufferings. It reminds us of the resilience of the human spirit.”  

Reviews for A Single Swallow

World Literature Today
World Literature Today
Read More
“Themes of gender, memory, and trauma are woven throughout the narrative . . . the story is not just about friendship; it is also about one woman, a single swallow, who changes the lives of three men forever.”
Historical Novel Society
Historical Novel Society
Read More
“[A] unique premise of ghostly rendezvous among soldiers, combined with first loves for all three men . . . Clever uses of newspaper accounts, military reports, and letters to loved ones advance the plot and complement the dialogue effectively and interestingly . . . superb . . . highly recommended.”
Enchanted Prose
Enchanted Prose
Read More
“[Zhang] Ling deserves all the credit for communicating the universal language of love and war, but credit is also due to Shelly Bryant, the translator, based on how vividly and movingly the novel reads.”
KATU-TV
KATU-TV (Portland, OR)
Read More
“Zhang Ling helps the reader see events through a distinctly Chinese perspective in which characters speak from the after-life and natural objects have human agency. A thought-provoking work of fiction.”
Anchee Min
Anchee Minbestselling author of Red Azalea
Read More
“I am in awe of Zhang Ling’s literary talent. Truly extraordinary. In her stories, readers have the chance to explore and gain a great understanding of not only the Chinese mind-set but also the heart and soul.”
Chinese Literature Today
Chinese Literature Today
Read More
“As a writer of perception and sensitivity, Zhang teases out the many layers of the devastating weight that the war had been putting on the individual, especially women . . . creates gripping suspense . . . In a unique narrative style, A Single Swallow compels readers to reflect on innocence and humanity through the prism of war.”
Shenzhen and Hong Kong Book Review
Shenzhen and Hong Kong Book Review
Read More
“[Zhang Ling] tackles a work of fiction as if it were fact . . . with a profound respect for historical truth as it impacts the real world, she successfully creates characters and stories that are both vivid and moving.”
Beijing News Book Review Weekly
Beijing News Book Review Weekly
Read More
“Zhang Ling’s concern for war and disaster has remained constant throughout the years as she delves deeply into human strength and tenacity in the face of extremely adverse situations.”
Shanghai Wenhui Daily
Shanghai Wenhui Daily
Read More
“[In this novel] we see not only the cruelty of war but also humans wrestling with fate . . . the novel blends the harsh reality of war seamlessly into the daily lives of the common people, weaving human destiny into the course of the war . . . A Single Swallow puts the novelist’s ability and talent on full display.”