February Flowers

Two University Girls’s Unlikely Friendship in China

Translated into eight languages

Picador Asia’s inaugural book

A Target Bookmark Pick

Set in modern China, February Flowers tells a story of self-discovery and reconciliation with the past.

An unlikely pair, seventeen-year-old Ming and twenty-four-year-old Yan meet and form an immediate bond despite having very little in common. Ming, innocent and preoccupied, lives in her own world of books, music and imagination. Yan is, by contrast, beautiful, sexy, wild, and manipulative. Their friendship is brief, almost accidental, but intense, and it changes Ming’s world forever.

February Flowers captures a society torn between tradition and modernity, dogma and freedom. It is a meditation on friendship, family, love, loss and redemption, and how a background shapes a life.


A novel that turns its eye away from imagined audiences and keeps it trained on the story at hand...the ease with which it (the novel) shakes off the voiceover of memoir, with all its intonations of latterly won wisdom, and enters the past as it was lived, in real-time and without the props of hindsight. As compelling is the way in which the two friends become emblematic of China as it was then.

Financial Times Book Review (UK)

An exquisitely beautiful book about that uncertain border between girlhood and womanhood, between passion and desire, a country only too familiar to all women. Fan Wu's story swept me away.

Sandra Cisneros bestselling author of House on Mango Street

Characters, plot, and Chinoiserie combine in a debut novel that shines...animated by unforgettable characters, and infused with emotional honesty, Fan Wu's first novel is moving, sexy, and impossible to put down. Her style is deceptively simple, her prose confident, clear and precise...a brilliant debut.

The Bulletin (Australia)

Fan Wu quietly and unobtrusively conveys the seismic shifts that Chinese society has undergone in a matter of decades...this subtle and deftly paced novel is, ultimately, less a story about sexual awakening than sheer awakening...

The Observer (UK)

Fresh and original...

The Age (Australia)

A fresh, original work that strikes a fine balance between intimacy and restraint, and shatters several stereotypes along the way....The author's control of her subject matter is impressive, capturing perfectly the claustrophobia and obsessive passion that youthful friendships can assume...The novel's ultimate appeal, however, lies in the universality of its themes-the pain and pleasure of growing up, and the discovery of sex and the accompanying wonder and fear; few will not recall their own adolescent pangs while reading February Flowers.

The Asian Review of Books

This first novel (February Flowers) commands our attention if we want to understand contemporary China...Yan is perhaps...the bipolar characteristics of contemporary China, and its unique brand of market Stalinism, modernity and tradition.

The Tablet (UK)

An original and unforgettable story. Just like the flowers referred to in the title, Fan Wu's novel is brimming with passion, vitality, and hope. The girls in this book are the daughters and granddaughters of The Good Women of China, and are products of the society both modern, expansive, and communistically introvert.

Xinran author of The Good Women of China