Liu Feng Shu was a wealthy intellectual and landowner in Chinese village during the early 1900s. As Japanese invaders worked their way across China in 1938, Shu dug a hole in the family’s garden. Under the cover of darkness, the elderly man lined the walls of the hole with bamboo and shelves to house his incredible collection of Chinese porcelain. He then covered the hole with a false floor, replanted the garden, and then gathered his family to flee in oncoming invaders.
Seventy years later Shu’s great-great grandson, American writer, Huan Hsu, encounters the porcelain collection at the Seattle Art Museum, launching him on a quest to learn more about his family history and determine what happened to his great-great grandfather’s buried treasure. Hsu chronicles his quest in The Porcelain Thief: Searching the Middle Kingdom for Buried China. Part memoir, part travelogue, and part political history, Hsu’s journey becomes much more than what happened to his family’s heirlooms. Hsu learns more about himself and his family of origin. The author’s ancestors and living relatives are as memorable of characters in any great fiction. The country of China looms large as a main character as well, full of mystery and contradictions. The Porcelain Thief is an intimate look inside China; revealing and riveting.