The Good Earth
This story starts with the arranged marriage of Wang Lung, a simple Chinese peasant, to O-lan, a slave of the local aristocrat. At first, Wang Lung is dedicated to the land; but as he gains in wealth and prosperity (and wives), he eventually gives way to decadence and decay.
In this graphic novel adaptation the illustrations are meant to replace much of the original text; while the pictures do add to the feeling of the story, in line with the original, they don’t portray the action or motivations well. Still, you will become wrapped up in this story, which is infuriating, and extremely sad. Wang Lung is incredibly passive, seeming to just fall into whatever happens to him while completely sidelining his first wife, whom he always treats as a slave, even though she bears him several sons (the epitome of wealth and fortune). Nevertheless he is the least despicable of the male characters – still contemptible but better than his associates. O-lan is certainly the most tragic character, and it is difficult to read how she suffers and how her society treats her. The story is a moving but stark depiction of life in early 20th-century China.
Simon & Schuster
Pearl S. Buck • Nick Bertozzi, Adapter