Sunday, January 25, 2009

No More Dragons

Explosions come from all around. The air is so smoky you can hardly see five feet in front of you. The night sky is filled with lights, bursting and dripping through the air. It's Chinese New Year.
I've only been back to China twice for the New Year. But each time the firecrackers went from dawn til midnight. The fireworks exploded more than the 4th of July. The story behind firecrackers and Chinese New Year is a wonderful symbolic one I think of often...especially during the New Year.
According to legend, there once lived a dragon. He came out of his cave once a year, forced his way through the village gates and kidnapped a young virgin in his thick, hairy hands--like a guest picking up a toothpick.
The villagers were terrified of this dragon.
The village priest suggested building the village walls higher. Setting a bonfire. Making a fake dragon. None of these methods worked.
Then one year as the dragon approached, a child lit a pocketful of firecrackers, one by one. Kaboom. The dragon jumped back on his haunches. Kaboom. His scales turned bright yellow. Kaboom. Kaboom. The dragon turned and ran away, never to be seen again.
I love this story, because we all have dragons: Dragons who say you can't accomplish this or try that, dragons who breathe their intimidating fires, dragons who make you afraid to follow your heart. Imagine the sound of firecrackers. Kaboom. Kaboom. Kaboom.
Happy Year of the Ox. May it be one of Happiness and Prosperity...and No Dragons.


Anonymous said...

Great post, Jana. I love that it was a child that thought about the firecrackers, because--sometimes--I think we feel like children when faced with a problem.

Still...there is something, too, in the story about the dragon bringing out the child's ingenuity, so maybe we need SOME (mild) dragons, too? I think I do, or I tend to just curl up and ignore the world going by.

Jana McBurney-Lin said...

Good point, Becky. I heard someone once say, "Do something outside your comfort zone everyday." (I don't always make it.)
So, I guess rather than wishing "No More Dragons," I should say--as the legend went--"Face Your Dragons." (Hopefully not every day.:)

Anonymous said...

Every day??! :) I agree, a little much for me. But how about every opportunity?

Okay, how weird is this--the word I have to type to get your blog to take my comment is:



Anonymous said...

No dragon....what are you talking about? I'm born in the dragon year! We haven't gotten any OX ornament yet. Did you get anything?

Jana McBurney-Lin said...

This wasn't your dragon, Shoko.:) It was a kind of monster dragon. A bad one.
What's an ox ornament?

shoko alberding said...

You know, something like "Ema(in Japanese)" or some little ox decorations for your room. We have some pigs and dogs on our refridge though.

Jana McBurney-Lin said...

Oh, okay. No, we didn't get any this year, either. But I have "fu" hanging in the doorway.:)

What People Are Saying About My Half of the Sky

My Half of the Sky was the BookSense Pick for August 2006 as well as a Forbes Book Club Pick.

"McBurney-Lin tells a wonderfully entertaining story with the traditional coming-of-age theme (which is experienced universally)...weaving in the cultural challenges of growing up in China's rapidly changing social system."
Mary Warpeha, co-President of the Minnesota Chapter of US-China Friendship Association
March 2010

"The novel ...includes many of the tales and the folk ways of the people living in the rural areas of South China, still followed provincially. The story takes place in current China, but could relate the dilemma of any young woman in rural China through the ages."
Kitty Trescott, National Board of the Midwest Region of US-China Friendship Association. March 2010

"A lot is expected of a young Chinese girl. My Half of the Sky by Jana McBurney-Lin is the story of Li Hui, a young girl who has just achieved marriageable age. She seeks to make the most of herself, but the expectations all around her make it difficult, as her parents seek to use her as pawn to their advantage, she is faced with what she believes to be true love. She must balance career, romance, and family, all to somehow make everyone happy, a tough endeavor indeed. An engaging and entertaining read from beginning to end, "My Half of the Sky" is a poignant tale of the modern Chinese woman, and recommended for community library collections.
--Midwest Book Review November, 2008

“It is a rare women’s novel that sensitively describes the life of a young educated woman in modern-day China in its full complexity, without resorting to unnecessary sentimentalism. Jana’s deep knowledge of the realities of life in China and Singapore makes the reading extra rewarding. In fact, with every new page the novel gets harder to put down and you find yourself gobbling it up before you know it. Finally, the author has given a voice to the Li Hui in all of us, as we struggle for the golden middle between tradition and the modern momentum of our world.”
Isabella Sluzek
Friends of the Museum Book Review 2008

You'll be rooting all the way for Li Hui as she struggles, ahead of the curve, to be her own woman in an emerging, modern China. Jana McBurney-Lin's My half of the Sky is a beautiful, witty, touching debut novel.
Thomas B. Sawyer
Head Writer TV Series "Murder, She Wrote,"
Author - The Sixteenth Man

A complex and mesmerizingly original tale of a young Chinese woman caught between the modern world and the pull of her ancient culture. McBurney-Lin’s intimate portrait of China sparks with insights and is peopled with characters so rich and alive, they seem to breathe on the page. Dazzling and unforgettable.
Caroline Leavitt,
Author - Girls in Trouble

McBurney-Lin's debut novel is a gift. Li Hui is a memorable heroine, a young woman torn between her heart and her culture.Her daunting journey is a trip into China's complicated soul, and a deeply moving exploration of love, honor, duty, and loss." Frank Baldwin, Author - Balling the Jack

My Half of the Sky is a wonderfully-crafted story that was obviously written with a piece of McBurney-Lin's heart. A masterpiece."
Lee Lofland, Author - Howdunit: Police Procedure and Investigation

My Half of the Sky heralds the arrival of a fantastic new storyteller. With artistry and precision, Jana McBurney-Lin's clear-eyed prose takes the reader on a new journey into a past world that speaks to a modern sensibility, a modern world, a modern woman. This is a book to be treasured.
Emily Rapp, Author - The Poster Child

Through vivid descriptions of sights and smells, Jana McBurney-Lin's My Half of the Sky is a haunting, emotional journey of what it means to be an honorable female in modern China. Jill Ferguson, Author - Sometimes Art Can't Save You