Mid-20th century magazines featured fiction by an impressive roster of writers including Truman Capote, Carson McCullers, Jessamyn West, M.K.F. Fisher, W.H. Auden, Jean Stafford, and others who were attracted by the high fees and broad exposure that large circulation publications could provide. Raised in China, Pearl S. Buck was a Pulitzer Prize-winning author with an intimate understanding of Chinese culture. A novel published in three parts on the pages of Ladies’ Home Journal, Kinfolk tells the tale of Dr. Liang Wen Jua, a Chinese scholar living in New York whose children decide to visit their ancestral village abroad.
Al Parker’s elegant painting of a woman bathing was inspired by the graceful aesthetic of traditional Chinese brush painting. Fashion artist Mary Suzuki served as the artist’s model for this work, which floated above a line of text offering clues to its meaning. “When I get to our village,” Mary mused, “I shall make a bathhouse first of all for the women.” The praying mantis at the edge of the tub was not integral to the story, but Parker included it as a “stopper” to pique interest and capture reader attention.