Thousand Pieces of Gold
Thousand Pieces of Gold is an English-language novel written by Ruthanne Lum McCunn and based on the life of Polly Bemis, a 19th-century Chinese immigrant woman in the American Old West. The novel was adapted into a film of the same name stars Rosalind Chao, Chris Cooper, Dennis Dun and Michael Paul Chan, and is directed by Nancy Kelly.
In a backdrop of adventure, romance and heroism, film explores the themes of slavery, racism, misogyny and harsh frontier life. It does not paint a flattering picture of the Chinese male characters, but shows the reality of the late 19th century, a time when Chinese immigrants were often treated no better than slaves, and Chinese women especially fared worse. Rosalind Chao's performance garnered high praise.
Lalu is the oldest daughter of a Chinese farmer. Her father loses everything by gambling on winter wheat futures, and Lalu finds herself thrust into debt slavery. At the end of the book, after many hardships, she dies.