Terrace Books, an imprint of The University of Wisconsin Press

Fiction / Asia & the Pacific


Plum Wine
A Novel
Angela Davis-Gardner

Terrace Books / Library of American Fiction

"A mystery that unfolds as beautifully, delicately, and ceremoniously as a lotus blossom. One of the most memorable novels I have read in many years."–Lee Smith, author of The Last Girls

Barbara Jefferson, a young American teaching in Tokyo in the 1960s, is set on a life-changing quest when her Japanese surrogate mother, Michi, dies, leaving her a tansu of homemade plum wines wrapped in rice paper. Within the papers Barbara discovers writings in Japanese calligraphy that comprise a startling personal narrative. With the help of her translator, Seiji Okada, Barbara begins to unravel the mysteries of Michi's life, a story that begins in the early twentieth century and continues through World War II and its aftermath.

As Barbara and Seiji translate the plum wine papers they form an intimate bond, with Michi a ghostly third in what becomes an increasingly uneasy triangle. Barbara is deeply affected by the revelation that Michi and Seiji are hibakusha, survivors of the atomic bombing in Hiroshima, and even harder for her to understand are the devastating psychological effects wrought by war. Plum Wine examines human relationships, cultural differences, and the irreparable consequences of war in a story that is both original and timeless.

"A complex and lyrical story about love and betrayal, war and responsibility, humane and generous acts in an inhumane world, the contrast between the East and the West, and one woman coming to terms with the American role in destroying innocent lives after World War II and during the Vietnam War."
–Susan Richards Shreve, author of Daughters of the New World

"What makes this book powerful is its commentary about the long-term effects of war, the inability of human beings to ever get over the past or to really understand each others' cultures, and the devastating consequences of American foreign policy."–Rebecca Brown, author of Excerpts from a Family Medical Dictionary

"Plum Wine is in equal parts mystery and romance, an enchantment cast with wise and graceful passion."–Karen Joy Fowler, author of The Jane Austen Book Club

The Terrace Books logo is designed in the shape of a book with a Union chair in silhouette on the cover. The words Terrace Books, Madison, Wisconsin appear also.

Angela Davis-Gardner is the author of two critically acclaimed novels, Felice and Forms of Shelter. Her short stories and personal essays have appeared in numerous literary magazines including Shenandoah and The Greensboro Review. She is professor of creative writing at North Carolina State University.

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There is a press kit available for Plum Wine.

Of Related Interest

by Jael

Joyce Elbrecht and Lydia Fakundiny
ISBN 0-299-21300-5 Cloth
Library of American Fiction/Terrace Books

the cover of Plum Wine is an illustration that has a the feel of an old Japanese woodblock print.

February 2006
LC: 2005021514 PS
320 pp.    6 x 9
Book icon
Cloth $26.95 t
ISBN 978-0-299-21160-8
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