"Tree of Heaven" by R.C. Binstock


This is a quiet, deep novel about the very unquiet and barbaric. Set against the backdrop of the Japanese occupation of China just prior to World War II, this novel investigates the effect of sweeping worldwide events on individuals. In particular, isolated people, alienated from their surroundings.

This story is beautifully and truly told. This author's unique path to the truths told sets this book well apart. He shows us the meeting of Li, a young Chinese woman and Kuroda, the commander of a garrison of invading Japanese, after the horrors of the Rape of Nanking. Their voices alternate - his with his dismay and disgust at the Emperor's Army's behavior, hers with the shock and grief of the murder of her family, and all the accompanying depredation at the hands of the invaders.

Kuroda rescues her and because she can speak Japanese, takes her into his quarters. These two are thrown together because of Kuroda's choice to spare her; Li has nowhere else to go. And both are isolated from their own people.

For a first novel, Mr. Binstock has produced a lovely, intelligent, humane piece. It is not widely read, if the LT numbers are any indication, but deserves SUCH a wider audience. Take it up by all means - it will not let you down.
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  1. Luke, i know authors are not supposed to thank (or argue with) reviewers. but it has been a long time since anyone would consider publishing me and it doesn't really matter. so i wanted to thank you for these kind and insightful comments. it means more than i can say to know that people are still reading my work.

    RC Binstock (Bob)

  2. Bob,

    It strikes me as impossible that you would struggle to find a publisher. I'm grappling with what to do to help get a worthy voice - yours - its public. Is there anything I can do, or am I intruding too greatly?

  3. hi Luke. the reason i am picking this conversation up after over two years is that i never returned to the page after i made my comment and so never saw your reply.

    i truly appreciate the interest. how it happened is water under the bridge but it does seem i am on the shitlist permanently.

    tell you what. i have not written at all in a few years. i have actually been toying with the idea of taking up the best (i think, anyway) of my three unpublished serious novels and looking at possible revisions. would you like to read it and tell me what you think along those lines? constructive criticism at a high level, is more or less what i'm thinking.


    PS you can email me directly at