Deanna Fei’s new novel, A Thread of Sky (Penguin Press, March 29, 2011) tells the story of Irene Shen and the women in her family as they grieve and recover from a devastating loss.
As Irene Chen’s husband of thirty years was leaving her, she shut the door behind him and half-jokingly said, “Good riddance,” to the collective eye-rolling of her three daughters. But when he dies suddenly in an accident shortly thereafter, Irene’s family falls apart.
Irene’s oldest daughter Nora withdraws to her high-powered Wall Street job and troubled relationship; her strong-willed middle child Kay heads to China to discover her family’s heritage and learn the language; and the youngest, Sophie, a sensitive art student, is miserably trapped at home until college starts. Thus begins Deanna Fei’s stunning debut novel.
With her family in pieces, Irene formulates a plan to bring them back together: she starts organizing a whirlwind tour of mainland China for her three daughters, her distant poet sister, and her formidable eighty year-old mother whom she hasn’t seen in years. As the three generations of women tour China, from beautiful temples and remote sections of the Great Wall to the glitzy bars and shops in downtown Shanghai, each woman arrives bearing secrets great and small and as they continue on their travels across the country, they slowly find their way toward a new understanding of themselves and each other.
Partly inspired by Deanna Fei’s own travels through China with her grandmother, mother, and sisters, A Thread of Sky is a beautifully written and deeply haunting story about love and sacrifice, history and memory, sisterhood and motherhood, and the connections that endure.
Deanna Fei was born in Flushing, New York, and has lived in Beijing and Shanghai, China. A graduate of Amherst College and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she has received a Fulbright grant and a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship. She currently lives in Brooklyn. www.deannafei.com