Translation in Alison Wong’s novel "As the Earth Turns Silver"

Essay, 2012

5 Pages, Grade: 1,3

Abstract or Introduction

As the Earth Turns Silver is the first novel by the poet and fiction writer Alison Wong and was published by Penguin in New Zealand in 2009. The plot is set in Wellington, New Zealand around the turn of the 20th century and reconstructs the cultural climate there at the time given.

In explanation, New Zealand had become a country of immigrants: the British Empire had annexed the country in 1840, the Mori consequently lost their sovereignty and were forced back further by the huge number of British settlers; besides, gold discoveries triggered the first wave of immigration from China in 1865. Thus, a racial hierarchy had established, with the British considering themselves superior to the others and an active Anti-Chinese League had built up.

Wong's novel now is both a love story and tragedy as well as a representation of Chinese settlement in the country. On the one hand, there is Katherine McKechnie as one of the protagonists of the novel, whose husband Donald drowns in a drunken accident, and her two children, Edie and Robbie. On the other hand, there are Chung Yung and his elder brother Shun, who have fled from Kwangtung, China, in 1905, leaving wife and children behind, and now run a greengrocer's shop in Wellington. Their stories intermingle since Katherine usually buys her fruit and vegetables in their shop. Gradually she befriends the younger of the two brothers, Yung, and, after her husband's death, their friendships eventually deepens into a secret love affair, secret because the interracial relationship would be regarded as a scandal in both communities.

Disastrously, Katherine's son Robbie has taken on his father's and Lionel Terry's racist views so that, knowing of his mother's and Yung's affair, he finally kills the Chinese in his shop and, later on, commits suicide in the garden of their house. Even though Wong herself is of Chinese descent, she points out that the story is not her family's story nor a real representation of history, but a mere work of fiction. All in all, Wong has produced a thought-provoking work about choices we make, the courage to stay true to oneself and, last but not least, racism/xenophobia and its absurdity and consequences.


Translation in Alison Wong’s novel "As the Earth Turns Silver"
University of Dusseldorf "Heinrich Heine"
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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555 KB
translation, alison, wong’s, earth, turns, silver
Quote paper
Doreen Klahold (Author), 2012, Translation in Alison Wong’s novel "As the Earth Turns Silver", Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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