Yannick Murphy’s Sea of Trees by Suzan Sherman

Yannick Murphy’s first novel Sea of Trees describes, with an eye for both beauty and irony, the effects of imperialism on a young girl named Tian and her family.

BOMB 59 Spring 1997
Issue 59 059  Spring 1997
​Yannick Murphy

Yannick Murphy. Photo by Dick Wieand. Courtesy of Houghton Mifflin.

Yannick Murphy’s first novel Sea of Trees describes, with an eye for both beauty and irony, the effects of imperialism on a young girl named Tian and her family. The novel begins in a prison camp in Indochina after the Japanese takeover in the ’40s and spans her family’s journey westward. While in the camp, one of many corpses is found in a marsh. It is impossible to discern whether he is Japanese or Chinese, enemy or friend. Like Tian, whose mother is French and father Chinese, Sea of Trees subtly portrays the complexities which occur when cultures merge. Women wait in desperation for the return of their men who have gone off to fight. Tian’s mother, on the brink of madness, searches for her husband by casting messages in bottles out to sea. Displaced from home and country, Tian and her family realize that home is no longer in a physical place, but rests in the love they have for each other. Despite the horrors the women in Tian’s family endure, they dance to a music they always manage to hear, never ashamed of where they come from and who they are. Murphy has created a delicate balance between a personal accounting of her own familial history and how it revolves around the larger political spectrum of the time. Sea of Trees is richly woven, a poetic narrative of strength and survival.

 

Sea of Trees is due out in May by Houghton Mifflin.

Jenny Holzer: The Body Electric by Annie Dewitt
Bodyelectric Body
Related
Charles Reznikoff’s By the Waters of Manhattan by Betsy Sussler
Article 5756 Bythewaters M Copy

Charles Reznikoff (1894–1976) writes prose like a poet, indeed he is one, with his rock-hard choice of words styled into deceptively simple sentences.

Walter Salles’s Central Station by Jenifer Berman
66 Walter Salles Body

Winner of numerous festival awards, including this year’s Sundance World Premiere and the Berlin Festival’s Ecumenical Prize, Walter Salles’s Central Station is set in the director’s native Brazil. 

The Ordinary Seaman by Francisco Goldman

This First Proof contains an excerpt from the novel The Ordinary Seaman.

Originally published in

BOMB 59, Spring 1997

Featuring interviews with Tim Roth, Amy Hempel, Emmylou Harris, Matthew Ritchie, Wallace Shawn, Christian Wolff, Gilles Peress, Kendall Thomas, and George Walker.

Read the issue
Issue 59 059  Spring 1997