Home Blog WHERE WATERS MEET by Zhang Ling




There was rarely a time when Phoenix Yuan-Whyller’s mother, Rain, didn’t live with her. Even when Phoenix got married, Rain, who followed her from China to Toronto, came to share Phoenix’s life. Now at the age of eighty-three, Rain’s unexpected death ushers in a heartrending separation.

Struggling with the loss, Phoenix comes across her mother’s suitcase—a memory box Rain had brought from home. Inside, Phoenix finds two old photographs and a decorative bottle holding a crystallized powder. Her auntie Mei tells her these missing pieces of her mother’s early life can only be explained when they meet, and so, clutching her mother’s ashes, Phoenix boards a plane for China. What at first seems like a daughter’s quest to uncover a mother’s secrets becomes a startling journey of self-discovery.

Told across decades and continents, Zhang Ling’s exquisite novel is a tale of extraordinary courage and survival. It illuminates the resilience of humanity, the brutalities of life, the secrets we keep and those we share, and the driving forces it takes to survive.


Zhang Ling is the award-winning author of nine novels and numerous collections of novellas and short stories, including A Single Swallow, translated by Shelly Bryant; Gold Mountain Blues; and Aftershock, which was adapted into China’s first IMAX movie with unprecedented box-office success. Born in China, she moved to Canada in 1986 and, in the mid-1990s, began to write and publish fiction in Chinese while working as a clinical audiologist. Since then, she has won the Chinese Media Literature Award for Author of the Year, the Grand Prize of Overseas Chinese Literary Award, and China Times’s Open Book Award. Where Waters Meet is her first novel written in English, and she received support for this work from both the Canada Council for the Arts and an Ontario Arts Council granT.

“A gripping, epic novel . . . a remarkable achievement.” —Paul BrinkleyRogers, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and veteran war correspondent; author of Please Enjoy Your Happiness
“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.” —Devi S. Laskar, author of The Atlas of Reds and Blues and Circa
“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.” —Jianan Qian, O. Henry Prize winner and staff writer at The Millions
“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. —Xinran, author of The Good Women of China and The Promise
Exit mobile version