River of Dust

On the windswept plains of northwestern China, Mongol bandits swoop down upon an American missionary couple and steal their small child. The Reverend sets out in search of the boy and becomes entangled in the desolate, corrupt countryside of opium dens, sly nomadic warlords and traveling circuses. Grace, his young wife, pregnant with their second child, takes to her sick bed in the mission compound, where visions of her stolen child and lost husband beckon to her from across the plains. In this story of retribution and a clash of cultures, these Americans find their Christian beliefs sorely tested and their concept of fate expanded as their adopted country comes to haunt them, changing not only what they believe, but who they are.

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Praise for River of Dust

“Virginia Pye’s River of Dust is a remarkable novel in the ways that delight me the most: It has a compelling narrative voice, a dynamic story and a deep resonance into the universal human condition, all of which is inextricably bound together. This is a major work by a splendid writer.”


River of Dust is mysterious, exotic, creepy—everything ignorant foreigners used to believe China to be. A fine journey, well worth the effort.”

The Washington Post

“Terrific, tremendous, wonderful...a strong beautiful, deep book.”

Annie Dillard

“A vividly imagined and beautifully drawn picture of the life of Christian missionaries in China in the early 20th century.”


“A gemstone of a novel...River of Dust is a masterpiece.”


Other Reviews