A “beautifully written, poignant exploration of family, art, culture, immigration…and love” (Jean Kwok, author of Searching for Sylvie Lee and Girl in Translation) set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution that follows a father’s quest to reunite his family before his precocious daughter’s momentous birthday, which Garth Greenwell calls “one of the most beautiful debuts I’ve read in years.”
How many times in life can we start over without losing ourselves?
In the summer of 1986, in a small Chinese village, ten-year-old Junie receives a momentous letter from her parents, who had left for America years ago: her father promises to return home and collect her by her twelfth birthday. But Junie’s growing determination to stay put in the idyllic countryside with her beloved grandparents threatens to derail her family’s shared future.
Junie doesn’t know that her parents, Momo and Cassia, are newly estranged from one another in their adopted country, each holding close private tragedies and histories from the tumultuous years of their youth during China’s Cultural Revolution. While Momo grapples anew with his deferred musical ambitions and dreams for Junie’s future in America, Cassia finally begins to wrestle with a shocking act of brutality from years ago. For Momo to fulfill his promise, he must make one last desperate attempt to reunite all three family members before Junie’s birthday—even if it means bringing painful family secrets to light.
Swimming Back to Trout River is a “symphony of a novel” (BookPage) that weaves together the stories of Junie, Momo, Cassia, and Dawn—a talented violinist from Momo’s past—while depicting their heartbreak and resilience, tenderly revealing the hope, compromises, and abiding ingenuity that make up the lives of immigrants. Feng’s debut is “filled with tragedy yet touched with life-affirming passion” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review), and “Feng weaves a plot both surprising and inevitable, with not a word to spare” (Booklist, starred review).
Born in Shanghai, Linda Rui Feng has lived in San Francisco, New York, and Toronto. She is a graduate of Harvard and Columbia Universities and is currently a professor of Chinese cultural history at the University of Toronto. She has been twice awarded a MacDowell Fellowship for her fiction, and her prose and poetry have appeared in journals such as The Fiddlehead, TheKenyon Review, Santa Monica Review, and Washington Square Review. Swimming Back to Trout River is her first novel. Visit LindaRuiFeng.comto learn more.
"Nancy Wu has a versatile voice and is exactly the type of narrator this intergenerational novel needs. Junie is a Chinese girl who is growing up in the countryside with her grandparents during the Cultural Revolution. Wu's dexterity is on full display as she transitions from male to female characters across a range of ages. Her changes in pitch, accent, and timbre help listeners visualize Junie; her grandparents; and her parents, Momo and Cassie. Fans of international fiction will find much to admire here. Wu is a master at timing, smoothly shifting from dense description to lively exchanges of dialogue. This intricate story of love, loss, and migration is expertly delivered."