FAMILY by Pa Chin


The first half of the twentieth century was a period of great turmoil in China, with thousands of years of established civilization being uprooted by a radical socialist revolution. Family, one of the most popular Chinese novels of that time, vividly reflects that turmoil and serves as a basis for understanding what followed.


Family was written in 1931 as`the first part of Pa Chin’s trilogy Turbulent Stream, which has been compared to Dream of the Red Chamber for its superb portrayal of the family life and society of its time. Drawn largely from Pa Chin’s own experience, Family is the story of the Kao family compound, consisting of four generations plus servants. It is essentially a picture of the conflict between old China and the new tide rising to destroy it, as manifested in the daily lives of the Kao family, and particularly the three young Kao brothers. Here we see situations which, unique as they are to the time and place of this novel, recall many circumstances of today’s world: the conflict between generations and classes, ill-fated love affairs, students’ political activities, and the struggle for the liberation of women.

The complex passions aroused in Family and in the reader are an indication of the universality of ‘human experience. This novel illustrates once again the effectiveness of fiction as a vehicle for translating the experience of one culture to another very different one.