by Li Juan
Having been to China myself, although not to the area around Ulungur, I was curious to read about the nomadic way of life. This biographic story gives the reader a view into some of the most lonely months in the lives of some of the most lonely people.
Li Juan tells her story, with humor, of traveling south with the camels, sheep, cows and horses where she and the family she has joined, will live throughout the winter. The story is divided into different sections, each highlighting a different part of life in the Winter Pasture. You get to know the people she lives with, but also the visitors that come over during the winter months. You learn about their ways of herding the animals, creating the sheep pen, maintenance work on their home and the lovely food they eat, and the beautiful embroideries they make in their free time. Overall it captures life on the winter pasture really well.
What I liked about the book is that it was divided in different sections, in which Li Juan highlights different experiences or bundles of information. For example, the first part focuses on the journey to the winter pasture and what life is like once they arrive there. Another part focuses solely on getting to know the characters more – which makes you love them, and find them annoying at other times. A great feature in the book were the pictures from life on the pasture. I would have loved to see even more of them!
The reason why I gave Winter Pasture 4 stars is that it does a good job of describing the life of nomads and the loneliness that comes with the lifestyle. But, throughout the story some scenes are repeated, in a slightly different way than before, but nonetheless it’s repetition. I came to find this a bit annoying at times. Also, I have noticed several spelling mistakes in the translation, such as words missing. Keeping this in mind, I decided to give 4 out of 5 stars.
If you are interested in books about China, and want to learn more about the Kazakh herders, I would definitely recommend this book. It doesn’t have a major plottwist, since it is non-fiction, but nonetheless a very interesting read!
Thank you Li Juan, the publisher and NetGalley for this read!