March 16, 2022

Melissa Fu

Harvard Book Store's virtual event series and GrubStreet welcome MELISSA FU for a discussion of her debut novel Peach Blossom Spring. She will be joined in conversation by HELEN ZIA, the celebrated author of Last Boat out of Shanghai: The Epic Story of the Chinese who Fled Mao's Revolution.


"Within every misfortune there is a blessing and within every blessing, the seeds of misfortune, and so it goes, until the end of time."

It is 1938 in China and, as a young wife, Meilin’s future is bright. But with the Japanese army approaching, Meilin and her four year old son, Renshu, are forced to flee their home. Relying on little but their wits and a beautifully illustrated hand scroll, filled with ancient fables that offer solace and wisdom, they must travel through a ravaged country, seeking refuge.

Years later, Renshu has settled in America as Henry Dao. Though his daughter is desperate to understand her heritage, he refuses to talk about his childhood. How can he keep his family safe in this new land when the weight of his history threatens to drag them down? Yet how can Lily learn who she is if she can never know her family’s story?

Spanning continents and generations, Peach Blossom Spring is a bold and moving look at the history of modern China, told through the story of one family. It’s about the power of our past, the hope for a better future, and the haunting question: What would it mean to finally be home?

About Author(s)

Melissa Fu grew up in Northern New Mexico and has lived in Texas, Colorado, New York, Ohio and Washington. She now lives near Cambridge, UK, with her husband and children. With academic backgrounds in physics and English, she has worked in education as a teacher, curriculum developer, and consultant. She was the 2018/19 David TK Wong Fellow at the University of East Anglia. Peach Blossom Spring is her first novel.

Helen Zia is a writer, activist and Fulbright Scholar. Her latest book, Last Boat out of Shanghai: The Epic Story of the Chinese who Fled Mao's Revolution, was one of NPR's Best Books of 2019 and a finalist for a 2020 PEN prize. A graduate of Princeton University’s first coeducational class, Helen has received two honorary doctorates. After attending medical school, she became a community organizer, construction laborer, autoworker, and after which she discovered her life’s work as a writer.