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MyJewishBooks.com is proud to wish a Kol haKavod to Y.U. and Sammy Samuels (Aung Soe Lwin) on Mr. Samuels' graduation from Yeshiva University in Spring 2006, as the school's valedictorian. Mr. Samuels did not grow up in Brooklyn, did not attend a yeshiva in high school. No. Mr. Samuels was born and raised in Myanmar/Burma. A member of Musmeah Yushua in Rangoon (Yangon), Myanmar's only existing synagogue, he was one of only twenty Jews in the country. Yet, here in NYC, he thrived and displayed his scholarship. He is now at the AJC
Note: Sammy's father Moses will be opening a travel service (Myanmar Shalom) in 2006 to host Jewish tours. In a city of 4 million, 20 (or 19 if Sammy isn't there) Jews can be hard to find. Off narrow 26th Street (No. 85, 26th St., Yangon (Rangoon), Myanmar Tel: 951 75062), there is a Star of David on a metal gate, That is the Musmeah Yeshua Synagogue. The Torahs are from Iraq. For more info... see Cernea's book below.
A note to our readers who are on this page because they are interested in both Asian and Jewish studies. In March 2007, a South Korean publisher agreed to withdraw a best-selling comic book from stores after Korean-American and Jewish groups complained that it spread anti-Jewish messages. The book is part of a series called "Distant Countries and Neighboring Countries" / Monnara Iunnara that is intended to teach children about foreign lands; the series has sold more than 10 million copies since it began 20 years ago. A book about the United States published in 2004 blames Jews for the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and claims that Jews prevent Korean-Americans from succeeding in the United States. Did I mention that he is a graduate of Munster University in Germany?
See our blog for a photo from the book (I own a few copies of his work)
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, met with the author, Lee Won-bok (sounds like Rhie Won-bok), a professor of visual arts at Deoksung Women's University in South Korea, at the Seoul offices of his publisher, Gimm-Young. Rabbi Cooper was accompanied by Richard Choi Bertsch, of the National Korean-American Coalition, who also called the book prejudiced. Mr. Lee said he would revise the book and added, "In the future, I will write books in a more responsible way.
Well... the book will be changed in future printings.
AND NOW FOR MORE NORMAL BOOKS...
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother
By Amy Chua, JD, Professor, Yale Law School
January 11, 2011 (1/11/11), Penguin
When the evil Wall Street Journal printed a two page essay from Amy Chua about her book, on January 8, 2011, it got over 1500 online comments in 72 hours. This is an awe-inspiring, often hilarious, and unerringly honest story of one mother's exercise in EXTREME parenting, revealing the rewards-and the costs-of raising her children the Chinese way, or what she perceives to be the CHINESE way. All decent parents want to do what's best for their children, or what they think is best for their life success, as defined by their mother. What Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother reveals is that the Chinese just have a totally different idea of how to do that.
“Western parents” try to respect their children's individuality, encouraging them to pursue their true passions and providing a nurturing environment. The Chinese believe that the best way to protect your children is by preparing them for the future and arming them with skills, strong work habits, and inner confidence. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother chronicles Chua's iron-willed decision to raise her daughters, Sophia and Lulu, her way-the Chinese way-and the remarkable results her choice inspires.
Here are some things Amy Chua would never allow her daughters to do:
have a playdate
be in a school play
complain about not being in a school play
not be the #1 student in every subject except gym and drama
play any instrument other than the piano or violin
not play the piano or violin
The truth is Lulu and Sophia would never have had time for a playdate. They were too busy practicing their instruments (two to three hours a day and double sessions on the weekend) and perfecting their Mandarin.
Of course no one is perfect, including Chua herself. Witness this scene:
"According to Sophia, here are three things I actually said to her at the piano as I supervised her practicing:
1. Oh my God, you're just getting worse and worse.
2. I'm going to count to three, then I want musicality.
3. If the next time's not PERFECT, I'm going to take all your stuffed animals and burn them!"
But Chua demands as much of herself as she does of her daughters. And in her sacrifices-the exacting attention spent studying her daughters' performances, the office hours lost shuttling the girls to lessons-the depth of her love for her children becomes clear. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is an eye-opening exploration of the differences in Eastern and Western parenting- and the lessons parents and children everywhere teach one another
Oh, by the way, Amy Chua was first in her class in High School. She graduated Harvard College as Phi Beta Kappa. She graduated from Harvard Law School and was Executive Editor of Harvard Law Review. Her father, who came to the US in 1961 from China is a professor at Berkeley. Amy clerked for a federal judge and worked for a top law firm. She is a professor at Yale Law.
On the other hand… her JEWISH HUSBAND… who lets Amy raise the kids her own way, went to Princeton and Harvard Law School. He spent two years at Julliard Drama exploring his creative side (I wonder if he was in school plays). He also clerked for a federal judge, and he is also an author (mystery book) and professor at Yale Law School. He was raised the Jewish way, not the Amy Chua Chinese way
Also, although the stereotype is as Amy portrays it, and a top selling Chinese parenting book is about the Chinese girl who went to Harvard, the most popular book on parenting in China stresses more love and openness for kids. Also, Wendy Mogel (see her book above) is a popular author in Asia (ask us about the Korean version of her Blessing of a Skinned Knee)
Please visit Jewlicious.com for a discussion of this book
Let me just add, Chua is not an idiot and not self-aware. She is very open and honest about what she is doing and possible errors. In the chapter on her youngest daughter's Bat Mitzvah, at their home, and her daughter's obstinate attitude towards playing “Hebrew Melody” on her violing and practicing her Haftorah portion, Chua expresses her angst over the lack of communication between she and her daughter, the comments of her friends, and the sense that after the Bat Mitzvah, her daughter will just grow and grow in her plans to go against Chua's wishes.
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The 120 Chinese Boys Who Came to America, Went to School, and Revolutionized an Ancient Civilization
By Liel Leibovitz and Matthew Miller
February 14, 2011, WW Norton and Company, Inc.
I began to read this book, not knowing anything about the story or the book’s structure. I could not put it down (though I had to between commutes). As each chapter unfolded, I wondered why there was no statue for Yung Wing? Does every Yale student know his story? Is there a club named for him? My questions were unending. This book needs to be required reading at a time when modern China is growing in power and wealth each week. Not only does it tell a gripping story of a quest for education, but it recreates the environment in which the Chinese lived in America.
Does anyone ever learn in the schools about how many thousands of Chinese built the railroads, and were then trashed after its completion? Who learns about the taxes that were imposed only on Asians, or the riots and lynchings against the Chinese in California? The Chinese Exclusionary Act and other ugly acts are unknown to most Americans. This is simply an amazing story that must be experienced.
The reader learns history through the adventures of these students, who one would have assumed would be anonymous players in the events of the world. My assumption was wrong. Teddy Roosevelt, Mark Twain, Herbert Hoover, China, Japan, the emperors, the Great Western powers, and more all play a role in the book and are influenced by the students. Through a handful or two of these 120 students we are present at the most important points of Chinese history from 1840 to WWII.
The book opens in America prior to the U.S. Civil War. Yung Wing has been sent, in his scholar’s robes and long queue pony tail to New England for prep school and college. It is he, the Chinese student, who scores a touchdown at Yale to win the game for the freshmen against the sophomores. An unheard of victory. For the next 100 pages we follow the life of Yung Wing as he studies and excels at Yale, returns to China on a very slow boat, deals with Mandarins and revolutionaries, and faces off with colonial Brits, Scots, Americans and other non Chinese. His courage and tenacity are without end. When he convinces governors and ultimately the Emperor to allow 120 Chinese boys to go to New England for decades of school and work, the story continues as we follow Yung Wing and his charges in New Haven. (HAS THIS BEEN OPTIONED FOR A FILM?) The story continues as these student acclimate to America and excel. The next two thirds of the book focus on the students as they return to China and contribute to its wars, changes, revolutions, and modernization.
You will not look at the Mao's revolution, Taiwn, Japan, Korea, Tibet, England or America in the same way again. Definitely my favorite read of the past 12 months.
From the inside cover: The epic story of the American-educated boys who changed China forever. At the twilight of the nineteenth century, China sent a detachment of boys to America in order to learn the ways of the West, modernize the antiquated empire, and defend it from foreigners invading its shores. After spending a decade in New England’s finest schools, the boys re-turned home, driven by a pioneering spirit of progress and reform. Their lives in America influenced not only their thinking but also their nation’s endeavor to become a contemporary world power, an endeavor that resonates powerfully today. Drawing on diaries, letters, and other first-person accounts, Fortunate Sons tells a remarkable tale, weaving together the dramas of personal lives with the momentous thrust of a nation reborn. Shedding light on a crucial yet largely unknown period in China’s history, Fortunate Sons provides insight into the issues concerning that nation today, from its struggle toward economic supremacy to its fraught relationship with the United States.
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The Sriracha Cookbook
50 "Rooster Sauce" Recipes that Pack a Punch
By Randy Clemens
January 2011, Ten Speed Press
Jews love Chinese and Asian cuisine. The love hot foods. They squirt red sauce in their Pho. They secretly love rooster sauce. -- Me
“This book is a perfect example that Sriracha tastes great on everything!” —David Chang, chef/owner of Momofuku
Sri Racha (See RAH Chah) is in Chonburi province, Thailand, about 65 miles southeast of Bangkok. It is a port town of 140 thousand Thais with a taste for hot sauce, specifically Nám prík Sriracha, a red paste sauce made from peppers, garlic, sugar, salt, and vinegar, sort of like a pickled garlic ketchup. Americans know it as rooster sauce.
You’ve drizzled the addictively spicy chili sauce over your breakfast eggs, noodles, and French fries, but now it’s time to take your Sriracha obsession to bold, new heights. Food writer and trained chef Randy Clemens presents 50 palate-expanding recipes that make the most of Sriracha’s savory punch, such as: Spicy Ceviche, Honey-Sriracha Glazed Buffalo Wings, Sriracha Cornbread, the Sriracha Burger, Peach-Sriracha Sorbet, and more. Named Bon Appétit’s Ingredient of the Year for 2010, the piquant pureé of chili peppers is one of the few kitchen standbys adored by adventurous cooks of all stripes—from star chefs to college freshmen—who appreciate its vibrant, versatile balance of ketchup-like sweetness, garlicky pungency, and just the right amount of spice. Whether you’re a die-hard fan or a recent convert to the revered “rooster sauce,” you’ll love adding heat, depth, and an intriguing Southeast Asian twist to your dishes beyond just a tableside squeeze.
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by Rattawut Lapcharoensap
A collection of short stories
Grove Press. February 2005.
Sightseeing is a supremely mastered work of fiction, a collection of 6 short stories and 1 novella set in modern Thailand and written with a grace and sophistication that belie the youth (age 25) of its author. Mr. Lapcharoensap is actually known as "A", which is a contraction of "cha-ae" (the Thai equivalent of "peek-a-boo"). Thai has five tones for each syllable, and in this case, "A" is pronounced in the upper registers, with a slight lilt at the end of the syllable, so that it's nearly two syllables. "A" grew up in Chicago and Thailand. His parents, like many other students and leaders, immigrated to Chicago in 1976 (escaping the Thai military crackdown on leftists during the seventies). He was born in 1979. As a toddler his family returned to Thailand, and then moved back when his parents enrolled in the University of Chicago for further study. The family then returned to Thailand, and the author returned to the USA for school (Cornell and Michigan) and a writing career. Moving between cultures and economics groups, many times an observer and new kid in school, he always served as a sort of tour guide. Moving around a lot, people were temporary and books were more permanent, so he was drawn to books and stories. Some see him as the new "rock star" on the literary scene. His best quote from a recent interview that I love is: "...when a story [of mine] gets published and I see it in print, there is first the requisite feeling of pride and giddiness and general dancing around rooms, followed very quickly and obliteratingly by feelings of shame, doubt, defeat, humiliation... "
These are generous, tender tales of family bonds, youthful romance, inter-generational conflicts and cultural shifts beneath the glossy surface of a warm, Edenic setting of Phuket, BKK, and the rest of Thailand. Each story is led by a different guide, they reflect a Thailand as felt (like a blind man feels and describes a Chang elephant) and observed by adolescents and others residing there. Amid the lush environment are hate and prejudice, love, decay, disgrace, abandonment, abuse, and the nasty habits of prostitution, sniffing paint thinner, bumper cars, methamphetamine, and confusion. This land of smiles has its own nefarious set of social divisions, just like any other country, and these have their own historical context and genealogy. The stories are of mundane lives in a lush country. This should come as no surprise to anyone who has eaten at a Thai restaurant and seen the manufactured class divisions between Thais from the North, South, and BKK, and those of Thai-Chinese heritage.
In "Farang," we meet a young man living in the lush beach districts of the South, where tourists and natives show their uglier sides and prejudice amidst the beautiful landscapes. In "Draft Day," economic privileges and class contexts intrude on friendships; and in "At The Café Lovely" a brother recalls a bonding experience and loss of innocence in a cafe that is not so lovely and fingers smell of heaven and glue. Hate and prejudice; bumper cars, abuse and love; depression, disgrace and decay, and the nasty, nefarious habits of prostitution, sniffing paint thinner, and goons with methamphetamine intrude on the succulent landscapes. In "Sightseeing," a son and mother make a trip to the beautiful coast before he starts college, gains some senses, and she loses one of her senses. In "Priscilla the Cambodian", two Thai boys befriend a gold-toothed, young girl from the Cambodian refugee shanty town that abuts their struggling middle class housing development, and learn some lessons that shock them from their swiftly ending childhood. In "Don't Let Me Die in This Place," we are introduced to a non-Thai - an older American widower who is suffering from the effects of a stroke and forced to live in the sweltering heat of BKK with his son, Thai daughter-in-law, and two Thai speaking grandchildren. Worse yet, he must drink his beer through a straw. In the author's able hands, the reader will feel both the sweat and frustrations of 'Mister Perry.' The collection ends with a novella, "Cockfighter," about a 15 year old teen and her parents. Her father works as a winning cockfighter, training birds to fight. But when a local hoodlum enters this man's domain, the feathers fly and the family might get pecked apart.
Through his vivid assemblage of parents and children, natives and transients, ardent lovers and sworn enemies, Rattawut Lapcharoensap dares us to look with new eyes at the circumstances that shape our views and the prejudices that form our blind spots. Sightseeing is an extraordinary reading experience, one that powerfully reveals that when it comes to how we respond to pain, anger, hurt, and love, no place is too far from home. A great fictional glimpse into the lives of people from the "land of smiles." Click to read more.
My China Eye:
Memoirs of a Jew and a Journalist
by Israel Epstein (1915-2005), editor of China Today
Long River Press. April 2005
JUST AS his latest magnum opus was published, Israel Epstein passed away at 90. He was born in Warsaw (under Russian control) in 1915. His father, a labor organizer was imprisoned by the Czar; his mother was exiled to Siberia. The family moved to Tianjin in China when he was 2, in order to espace progroms. Israel Epstein was buried at Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery in Beijing. Epstein was a special Chinese son, who was also a Jew and life-long journalist of more than 70 years. His colleagues, and those who have been touched by his series of books about China and about his life in the country, will undoubtedly be moved at the ceremony remembering the unique man who witnessed and documented all the dramatic events that shaped the modern and contemporary history of China. "Eppy was an intellectual, a serious scholar with a wide range of interests," said Sidney Shapiro, an American lawyer and writer who became a Chinese citizen in 1963, in an interview with China Daily. "But what he accomplished in his long and fruitful life was predicated essentially on his heart. No one loved China more, no one was more devoted to the cause of the Chinese revolution," Shapiro said.The film documentary entitled "Round Eyes in the Middle Kingdom," a "first person" account starred Epstein as the protagonist. This sweeping memoir by veteran journalist Israel Epstein--eyewitness to the Chinese Communist Revolution--spans over eighty years and offers an unprecedented, highly personal look into one of the most fascinating and controversial social struggles of the twentieth century. A must-read for anyone interested in contemporary Chinese history
THE FUGU PLAN
The Untold Story of the Japanese
and the Jews During World War Two
by Marvin Tokayer and Mary Swartz
An Excellent history and a necessary read.
In all the literature of the Holocaust and of World War II, the story of the European Jews who fled across the world to the unlikely haven of Japan has remained untold -- until now. The Fugu Plan: The Untold Story Of The Japanese And The Jews During World War Two is a powerful narrative which follows a group of these refugees throughout their journey across Stalin's Russia, their experiences in Japan, and their struggle for survival in an Asian ghetto. Interwoven with this moving saga are the details of an astounding top-secret plan to create an "Israel in Asia" under Japanese control by offering displaced European Jews a safe haven in Manchuria in return for the financial and technical skills they would bring to this outpost of the Japanese Empire. Although this so-called "Fugu Plan" would founder with Japan's entry into the Tripartite Pact with Nazi Germany and Italy in 1940, its legacy, as the Holocaust swept over Europe, was the survival of thousands of Jews issued Japanese transit visas and given wartime refuge in Asia. That they survived at all is testimony to the courage of many individuals, both Japanese and Jews, whose stories are told here - and to the seeds planted by the unlikely vision embodied in The Fugu Plan. An important and vital addition to the Judaic studies collection about an almost unknown aspect of the holocaust experience.
Not actually Jewish, but two lovely stories, one a memoir, and another a book for Ages 9-12: Exposed
by Helen Leung
Helen, who loves home cooking, Famous Amos chocolate chip cookies, and Haagen-Daz coffee ice-cream, became ill as a child, and doctors were unable to diagnose the problem. She later found out she had dermatomyositis. Most of her childhood years were spent in and out of hospitals and clinics trying to find that 'miracle cure' and wrestling to overcome the illness. "Doctors kept telling my mom that I wouldn't live past my tenth birthday. I'm glad I was able to prove them wrong. Then again, they underestimated me, as many able-bodied people have that I've encountered." Growing up in Queens, New York, Helen occupied most of her free time reading and drawing. "I was totally engrossed with the Nancy Drew and Sweet Valley High series." Her passion for writing evolved in the sixth grade after reading Frances Hodgson Burnett's A Little Princess. Later on while attending the prestigious High School of Music & Art and the Performing Arts, she fall in love with writing. In 1996 at the age of seventeen she began writing her first draft to her memoir, recounting what it was like growing up with a disability. "I had all this anger and rage inside of me from over the years that needed an outlet. Also there were some things that needed to be set straight because I was tired of having to prove myself worthy." As a young child and teenager growing up with Dermatomyositis, Helen discovered how indubitably frustrating it can be at times to find acceptance among her peers and the people she encounters on a daily basis. In her memoir, we experience firsthand just how uncomfortable the human stare can be, and what one would do in desperation for that "miracle cure." Told candidly and at times humorously, this is a story of a young girl's determined odyssey into young adulthood. Set Her advice is to set your expectations high and one day exceed them.
A novel by Helen Leung
Abused and unwanted by her parents because she was born a daughter rather than a son, twelve-year-old Toni Myers was sent to live with her uncle, Steve. But life with Uncle Steve has been anything but easy with his violent temper and volatile rampages. Following up on a disturbance call one evening, Sergeant Matt McKay arrives at Steve Myers' house, unaware of the young girl locked in the upstairs closet. When the two finally meet, both lives change forever. He becomes the father and family she's never had. She becomes the daughter he never expected to love. Will Matt's love be enough for the events that are about to unfold in their lives? Through the eyes of a young girl, we journey along through the course of four years as she learns about love, trust, forgiveness and how some ties can never be broken.
WHAT DOES CHINA THINK ?
BY MARK LEONARD
2008, PUBLIC AFFAIRS
We know everything and nothing about China. We know that China is changing so fast that the maps in Shanghai need to be redrawn every two weeks. We know that China has brought 300 million people from agricultural backwardness into modernity in just thirty years, and that its impact on the global economy is growing at unprecedented speed. We have an image of China as a dictatorship; a nationalist empire that threatens its neighbors and global peace. But how many people know about the debates raging within China? What do we really know about the kind of society China wants to become? What ideas are motivating its citizens? We can name America's neo-cons and the religious right, but cannot name Chinese writers, thinkers, or journalists-what is the future they dream of for their country, or for the world? Because China's rise- like the fall of Rome or the British Raj-will echo down generations to come, these are the questions we increasingly need to ask. Mark Leonard asks us to forget everything we thought we knew about China and start again. He introduces us to the thinkers who are shaping China's wide open future and opens up a hidden world of intellectual debate that is driving a new Chinese revolution and changing the face of the world
Serve the People!
by Yan Lianke
Set in 1967, at the peak of the Mao cult, Serve the People! is a beautifully told, wickedly daring story about the forbidden love affair between Liu Lian, the young, pretty wife of a powerful Division Commander in Communist China, and her household's lowly servant, Wu Dawang. When Liu Lian establishes a rule for her orderly that he is to attend to her needs whenever the household's wooden Serve the People! sign is removed from its usual place, the orderly vows to obey. What follows is a remarkable love story and a profound and deliciously comic satire on Mao's famous slogan and the political and sexual taboos of his regime. As life is breathed into the illicit sexual affair, Yan Lianke brilliantly captures how the Model Soldier Wu Dawang becomes an eager collaborator with the restless and demanding Liu Lian, their actions inspired by primitive passions that they are only just discovering. Originally banned in China, and the first work from Yan Lianke to be translated into English, Serve the People! brings us the debut of one of the most important authors writing from inside China today.
By Nam Le
May 2008, Knopf
A stunningly inventive, deeply moving fiction debut: stories that take us from the slums of Colombia to the streets of Tehran; from New York City to Iowa City; from a tiny fishing village in Australia to a foundering vessel in the South China Sea, in a masterly display of literary virtuosity and feeling. In the magnificent opening story, "Love and Honor and Pity and Pride and Compassion and Sacrifice," a young writer is urged by his friends to mine his father's experiences in Vietnam-and what seems at first a satire of turning one's life into literary commerce becomes a transcendent exploration of homeland, and the ties between father and son. "Cartagena" provides a visceral glimpse of life in Colombia as it enters the mind of a fourteen-year-old hit man facing the ultimate test. In "Meeting Elise," an aging New York painter mourns his body's decline as he prepares to meet his daughter on the eve of her Carnegie Hall debut. And with graceful symmetry, the final, title story returns to Vietnam, to a fishing trawler crowded with refugees, where a young woman's bond with a mother and her small son forces both women to a shattering decision. Brilliant, daring, and demonstrating a jaw-dropping versatility of voice and point of view, The Boat is an extraordinary work of fiction that takes us to the heart of what it means to be human, and announces a writer of astonishing gifts.
Click to read more
Reading a sentence crafted by Pham is a pleasure that you should definitely experience
The Eaves of Heaven
A Life in Three Wars
by Andrew X. Pham
June 2008, Harmony
From Andrew X. Pham, the award-winning author of Catfish and Mandala, a son's searing memoir of his Vietnamese father's experiences over the course of three wars. Once wealthy landowners, actually one of the two wealthiest families in their province, Thong Van Pham's family was shattered by the tumultuous events of the twentieth century: the festering French occupation of Indochina, the Japanese invasion during World War II, and the Vietnam War. Told in dazzling chapters that alternate between events in the past and those closer to the present, The Eaves of Heaven brilliantly re-creates the trials of everyday life in Vietnam as endured by one man, from the fall of Hanoi and the collapse of French colonialism to the frenzied evacuation of Saigon. Pham offers a rare portal into a lost world as he chronicles Thong Van Pham's heartbreaks, triumphs, and bizarre reversals of fortune, whether as a young man taking a bus to his first job as a teacher, or as a South Vietnamese soldier pinned down by enemy fire, a prisoner of the North Vietnamese under brutal interrogation, or a refugee desperately trying to escape Vietnam after the last American helicopter has abandoned Saigon. This is the story of a man caught in the maelstrom of twentieth-century politics, a gripping memoir told with the urgency of a wartime dispatch by a writer of surpassing talent. Click to read more
By MARION CUBA
In life, Hannah is a stark, distant enigma to her daughter, Maya. But when Hannah dies, a German diary turns up, revealing a secret. In 1938 Hannah and her parents fled Hitler to the one place that would have them without a visa: Shanghai. As this little-known chapter of the Nazi era unfolds, Maya is amazed at the brave, poignant choices Hannah made. Now Maya must evaluate her own life-her empty marriage, neglected art career, and outworn child-centered existence. She has choices Hannah never had. She must dare to seize them. Click to read more.
BAGHDADI JEWS IN BRITISH BURMA
By RUTH FREDNAB CERNEA
Maryland based Anthropologist Cernea has produced this history of the Jews of Rangoon Burma (Yangoon Myanmar). Before the Second World War, two golden "promised lands" beckoned the thousands of Baghdadi Jews who lived in Southeast Asia: the British Empire, on which "the sun never set," and the promised land of their religious tradition, Jerusalem. Almost Englishmen studies the less well-known of these destinations. The book combines history and cultural studies to look into a significant yet relatively unknown period. Almost Englishmen analyzes to full effect the way Anglo culture transformed the immigrant Bagdhadi Jews. England's influence was pervasive and persuasive: like other minorities in the complex society that was British India, the Baghdadis gradually refashioned their ideology and aspirations on the British model. The Jewish experience in the lush land of Burma, with its lifestyles, its educational system, and its internal tensions, is emblematic of the experience of the extended Baghdadi community, whether in Bombay, Calcutta, Shanghai, Singapore, or other ports and towns throughout Southeast Asia. It also suggests the experience of the Anglo-Indian and similar "European" populations that shared their streets as well as the classrooms of the missionary societies' schools. This contented life amidst golden pagodas ended abruptly with the Japanese invasion of Burma and a horrific trek to safety in India, and could not be restored after the war. Employing first-person testimonies and recovered documents, this study illuminates this little known period in Imperial and Jewish histories. Click to read more.
Free Food for Millionaires
by Min Jin Lee
May 2007, Grand Central
PW writes: In her noteworthy debut, Lee filters through a lively postfeminist perspective a tale of first-generation immigrants stuck between stodgy parents and the hip new world. Lee's heroine, 22-year-old Casey Han, graduates magna cum laude in economics from Princeton with a taste for expensive clothes and an "enviable golf handicap," but hasn't found a "real" job yet, so her father kicks her out of his house. She heads to her white boyfriend's apartment only to find him in bed with two sorority girls. Next stop: running up her credit card at the Carlyle Hotel in New York City. Casey's luck turns after a chance encounter with Ella Shim, an old acquaintance. Ella gives Casey a place to stay, while Ella's fiancé gets Casey a "low pay, high abuse" job at his investment firm and Ella's cousin Unu becomes Casey's new romance. Lee creates a large canvas, following Casey as she shifts between jobs, careers, friends, mentors and lovers; Ella and Ted as they hit a blazingly rocky patch; and Casey's mother, Leah, as she belatedly discovers her own talents and desires. Though a first-novel timidity sometimes weakens the narrative, Lee's take on contemporary intergenerational cultural friction is wide-ranging, sympathetic and well worth reading. Click to read more.
American Born Chinese
A graphic novel
by Gene Luen Yang
PW: As alienated kids go, Jin Wang is fairly run-of-the-mill: he eats lunch by himself in a corner of the schoolyard, gets picked on by bullies and jocks and develops a sweat-inducing crush on a pretty classmate. And, oh, yes, his parents are from Taiwan. This much-anticipated, affecting story about growing up different is more than just the story of a Chinese-American childhood; it's a fable for every kid born into a body and a life they wished they could escape. The fable is filtered through some very specific cultural icons: the much-beloved Monkey King, a figure familiar to Chinese kids the world over, and a buck-toothed amalgamation of racist stereotypes named Chin-Kee. Jin's hopes and humiliations might be mirrored in Chin-Kee's destructive glee or the Monkey King's struggle to come to terms with himself, but each character's expressions and actions are always perfectly familiar. True to its origin as a Web comic, this story's clear, concise lines and expert coloring are deceptively simple yet expressive. Even when Yang slips in an occasional Chinese ideogram or myth, the sentiments he's depicting need no translation. Yang accomplishes the remarkable feat of practicing what he preaches with this book: accept who you are and you'll already have reached out to others.
The parts I enjoyed included the running gag about how teachers mispronounce the Chinese kids' names, and how Jin Wang disses the new Asian kids in school in a sort of pecking order until he must relent and become best friends. Click to read more.
Trail of Crumbs
Hunger, Love, and the Search for Home
by Kim Sunee
January 2008, Grand Central
Already hailed as "brave, emotional, and gorgeously written" by Frances Mayes and "like a piece of dark chocolate--bittersweet, satisfying, and finished all too soon" by Laura Fraser, author of An Italian Affair, this is a unique memoir about the search for identity through love, hunger, and food. When Kim Sunée was three years old, her mother took her to a marketplace, deposited her on a bench with a fistful of food, and promised she'd be right back. Three days later a policeman took the little girl, clutching what was now only a fistful of crumbs, to a police station and told her that she'd been abandoned by her mother. Fast-forward almost 20 years and Kim's life is unrecognizable. Adopted by a young New Orleans couple, she spends her youth as one of only two Asian children in her entire community. At the age of 21, she becomes involved with a famous French businessman and suddenly finds herself living in France, mistress over his houses in Provence and Paris, and stepmother to his eight year-old daughter. Kim takes readers on a lyrical journey from Korea to New Orleans to Paris and Provence , along the way serving forth her favorite recipes. A love story at heart, this memoir is about the search for identity and a book that will appeal to anyone who is passionate about love, food, travel, and the ultimate search for self. Click to read more.
Shutting Out the Sun
How Japan Created Its Own Lost Generation
by Michael Zielenziger
Before I bought this book, I thought.. another Japan bashing book .. but then I saw the author's name. Zielzinger was a top reporter based in Asia and Israel, a fellowship recipient, and is now at Berkeley. So I was glad I didn't just pass up on this book. In the 1980's Japan was growing fast. Everyone expected Japan and its quality focus and banking prowess to dominate America. But then the banking system failed in the Nineties, and a recession hit. The author meticulously explains Japan's failure, its possible future, and what it means for America. In the new century, Japan's power left the headlines and everyone looked to China. The only time I see Japan in the American headlines now is when they are discussing some crazy monkey, an antic, a birth in the Emperor's family, or some social perversion. As the author makes note, Japan has the highest suicide rate and lowest birthrate of all the industrialized countries. Not only do they have ulcers, but they have high rates of depression. How many salarymen have chosen to remain single? "Zielenziger argues that Japan's rigid, tradition-steeped society, its aversion to change, and its distrust of individuality and the expression of self are stifling economic revival, political reform, and social evolution. Giving a human face to the country's malaise, Zielenziger explains how these constraints have driven intelligent, creative young men to become modern-day hermits. At the same time, young women, better educated than their mothers and earning high salaries, are rejecting the traditional path to marriage and motherhood, preferring to spend their money on luxury goods and travel." Click to read more.
Uncle Peter's Amazing Chinese Wedding
by Lenore Look, Yumi Heo (Illustrator)
January 2006, Atheneum.
Ages 4 - 8
Jenny's favorite uncle, Peter, is getting married, and everyone is happy happy -- everyone, that is, except Jenny. While her family runs about getting ready for the traditional Chinese wedding -- preparing for the tea ceremony, exchanging good-luck money called hungbau, helping the bride with her many dresses -- Jenny is crying on the inside. How is she supposed to still be Uncle Peter's number-one girl, with her new aunt Stella around? Maybe if she can stop the day's events from happening, he won't get married at all... Mischievous kids will love following Lenore Look and Yumi Heo's feisty heroine from Henry's First-Moon Birthday in this charming story that also illuminates the many traditions of the Chinese wedding Click to read more.
Mr. Muo's Travelling Couch
by Dai Sijie
This comic novel encompasses huge themes-not just political repression in China, but also love, sex, the commodification of women, and the twisting, winding roads one must take to gain self-knowledge. Reviewers concur that Sijie's second novel is something of a picaresque; it meanders as it follows the hapless Mr. Mou's adventures and missteps and enters into the terrain of the absurd. By the author of Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
Mr. Muo is a 40-year-old student of Freud, self-described as China's only psychoanalyst-at-large, a near-sighted klutz who has returned to his home country from his adopted Paris. His main mission, besides introducing 21st-century China to the blessings of psychoanalysis, is to win the release of his university love, a 36-year-old photographer named Volcano of the Old Moon, who has been imprisoned for documenting police torture. "Love" may be an overstatement; Muo's sexual experience is confined to his notebooks, where he religiously records his dreams in the language of Molière, with the help of a Larousse dictionary. He records these dreams with something like rapture, "especially as he recalls or applies a phrase, perhaps even an entire paragraph, of Freud or Lacan, the two masters for whom his esteem is boundless." Muo is our hero and straight man, so wonderfully earnest, stepping aside to observe himself, to excoriate and revile his shortcomings, to dream his dreams aloud. While his faith in psychoanalysis is boundless, Dai's omniscient narrator slyly deflates the science so beloved by the protagonist: "Having no French at first, Muo spoke Chinese, of which his psychoanalyst understood not a word; even if he had, he would have been hard put to cope with the dialect of Sechuan, the province from which Muo hailed." Click to read more.
THE PEOPLE WHO LEAD US TOWARD OUR PURPOSE IN LIFE
by ERIC LIU
Random. December 2004.
Eric is a former speechwriter for Clinton. He now teaches at the University of Washington in Seattle. "We all need teachers," he writes. -- people to help us find the way. In this stirring new book, he takes us on a quest for those guiding lights. He shares invaluable lessons from people whose "classrooms" are boardrooms, arenas, concert halls, theaters, kitchens, and places of worship-and in the process, he reveals a surprising path to purpose. Among those Liu portrays in vivid and fascinating narratives are one of Hollywood's finest acting teachers, who turns a middling young actress into a project for transformation; an esteemed major league pitching coach, haunted by the players he's let down; a rising executive (Jocelyn Wong at Procter and Gamble) whose eye for untapped talent allows her to rescue a floundering employee; a master clown whose workshop teaches a husband-and-wife team to revamp their relationship, onstage and off; a high school debate coach whose protégée falters at the pinnacle, and thus finds triumph; and a gangland priest who has saved many and yet still must confront the limits of his power to heal. Click to read more.
THE HIDDEN ASSAULT ON OUR CIVIL RIGHTS
By KENJI YOSHINO
February 2006, Random House.
Yale Professor of Law and Deputy Dean for Intellectual Life Kenji Yoshino discusses the concept of hiding our authentic selves, the identity that is disfavored by the mass of the community. The drive of conformity to "act white" in America, or "be a man", or downplay your faith, or butch it up is prevalent in America, and how should civil rights law address it. Both a intellectual essay and a memoir. Click to read more.
The Jewish calendar Year is about 1000 years older than the Chinese calendar year... which means that the Jews (or pre Abrahamic Hebrews) lived 1000 years without Chinese food. What a shanda!
Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook
Recipes from Hunan Province
by Fuchsia Dunlop
Fuchsia Dunlop is the author of the much-loved and critically acclaimed Sichuanese cookbook Land of Plenty, which won the British Guild of Food Writers' Jeremy Round Award for best first book and which critic John Thorne called "a seminal exploration of one of China's great regional cuisines." Now, with Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook, she introduces us to the delicious tastes of Hunan, Chairman Mao's home province. Hunan is renowned for the fiery spirit of its people, its beautiful scenery, and its hearty peasant cooking. In a selection of classic recipes interwoven with a wealth of history, legend, and anecdote, Dunlop brings to life this vibrant culinary region. Look for late imperial recipes like Numbing-and-Hot Chicken, Chairman Mao's favorite Red-Braised Pork, soothing stews, and a myriad of colorful vegetable stir-fries. 65 color illustrations . Click to read more.
The Kaifeng Stone Inscriptions
The Legacy of the Jewish Community in Ancient China
by Tiberiu Weisz
iUniverse, Inc. 2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE. 68512 http://www.iuniverse.com) $21.95
Beverly Friend writes: "...Disparities in the translation of even one word can mark a profound difference. Both Anglican Bishop Charles White (author of Chinese Jews,"1942, republished in 1966) and scholar Donald Leslie (author of The Chinese Jewish Community, a Summary, 1971) translated one of the sentences in the 1489 carved stele of the Kaifeng Jews as a comment from the Emperor to the Jewish settlers, "You have come to our China." Tiberiu Weisz disagrees, stating that the Chinese character gui does not mean "come," but rather "to return." This would shift meaning considerably, moving from the historical possibility that the Jews had arrived in China at that particular historic time (in the Song Dynasty (960-1279), to the possibility that they had arrived long before and were now returning. (Page 11). This is just one of the many interesting annotations in a book intended for scholars that proves equally intriguing to laymen. (And what makes it even more provocative is that the definition of "gui" is not clear cut. According to Al Dien of the Sino Judaic Institute, "gui in that context does not mean return, but rather to have come to one's proper place, as subservient to the state. The word was often used in seals given to various minority peoples on the borders meaning they were now loyal.") ...The task of translating the 1489, 1512 and 1663 carved inscriptions on the stone steles in Kaifeng, China is daunting. The language is 15th century Chinese vernacular which means no punctuation and obscure references and annotations. The material is often irreconcilable with accounts of missionaries and travelers. Inconsistencies abound. Facts can not be substantiated. Most important, the inscriptions appear to lack any trace of Judaism. Weisz's background, his fluency in Chinese and Hebrew as well as his college teaching of Hebrew History and Chinese Religion, provides him with a new and unique approach to the subject... For anyone interested in the Jews of Kaifeng, this is a MUST. . Click to read more.
Chicken Soup with Chopsticks
A Jew's Struggle for Truth in an Interfaith Relationship
By Jack Botwinick
Paper Spider (February, 2005)
The moment Jack Botwinik became enamoured of Belinda Cheung, he began to reflect seriously on his Jewish heritage and identity. Confronted with an ancient, rich and fascinating Chinese tradition that he knew nothing about, and that threatened to eclipse his own, Jack was challenged to identify what was ultimately special about his Jewishness. While embarking with his Chinese girlfriend on a sincere quest for Truth across religions, Jack was keenly aware of his bias: he feared being cut off from his family and friends and from his ethnic roots, and hoped that Belinda would convert to Judaism. In seeking to show Belinda the beauty, depth and meaningfulness of his religion, Jack came to discover these things himself. And as Belinda was being drawn to the teachings of Judaism, it helped Jack validate his own changing worldview and way of life. Jack Botwinik grew up in a culturally rich environment, speaking five languages. He attained a Master of Arts degree in Political Science from McGill University in Montreal. He worked in Toronto for a few years in the city's welfare department, before landing a job with the Correctional Service of Canada. Jack's experience in dealing with destitute and under-privileged people, and his re-examination of his religious heritage, significantly altered his outlook on life. Jack enjoys family time with his wife and two young children. Click the book cover above to read more.
The Bamboo Cradle
A Jewish Father's Story (Paperback)
by Avraham Schwartzbaum
Feldheim Pub (August 1988)
An American professor on a Fulbright Fellowship to Taiwan finds a newborn baby girl abandoned in a railroad station. in China, where the population explosion taxes the country's resources to the limit and beyond, and where, traditionally, little value is placed on female offspring, this almost commonplace occurrence could hardly be considered noteworthy. But for Allan Schwartzbaum, it was an event that was to alter his life irrevocably. The Schwartzbaums, married for seven years and unable to have children of their own, adopt the foundling and bring her back to America with them. Because they are Jewish, although not observant, it seems only natural for them to provide their new daughter with a basic Jewish education, but this turns out to be far more from simple. In order to qualify for enrollment in the local Jewish Day School, the child has to be first converted to Judaism. And in order to qualift for a legitimate conversion, she has to first be guaranteed an Orthodox upbringing. This heartwarming, true story, filled with humor and pathos, joy, frustration and ultimately, fulfullment, describes the providential chain of events that lead the Schwartzbaums from the discovery of a Chinese infant to the discovery of their Jewish heritage. Along the way, they also discover that the burdens and obligations of authentic Judaism are outweighed by its myriad benefits. Click the book cover above to read more.
The Jews in China
by Pan Guang
China Intercontinental Press (January, 2001).
This book tells of the history and life of Jews in various regions of China from the ancient times till after World War II. It contains images of Jews in Shanghai, Harbin, Tianjin, Shenyang, Manzhouli, Hailar, and Qingdao. It gives accounts of how Jews struggled and succeeded in Hong Kong, how Dr. He Fengshan, known as China's Schindler, saved Jewish refugees, and of Jewish internationalists, such as Jacob Rosenfeld, Hans Muller, and Hans Shippe, who made great contributions to the liberation cause of the Chinese people. In addition, the album records visits of state leaders, and research into Chinese Jews conducted in various parts of the world. With over 200 b&w photos and maps. . Click to read more.
The Jews in Shanghai
by Pan Guang
Jewish life in Shanghai since mid-19th century. Click to read more.
The Jews in Tianjin
by Anna Song
In the 1860s Jews began to settle in Tianjin, a port city south of Peking, and in the late 19th and early 20th century and during World War II still more Jews migrated to the city. In Tianjin they had their own community in which to preserve the economic, religious, educational and cultural aspects of Jewish life. World War II did not prevent the Jewish community in Tianjin from maintaining its original lifestyle, nor from becoming a refuge for those that escaped Nazi genocide. The album records this period with detailed historical data and numerous photographs.. Click to read more.
Dorothea Lange and the Censored Images of Japanese American Internment
by Dorothea Lange, Edited by Linda Gordon and Gary Y. Okihiro
Censored by the U.S. Army, Dorothea Lange's unseen photographs are the extraordinary photographic record of the Japanese American internment saga. This indelible work of visual and social history confirms Dorothea Lange's stature as one of the twentieth century's greatest American photographers. Presenting 119 images originally censored by the U.S. Army-the majority of which have never been published-Impounded evokes the horror of a community uprooted in the early 1940s and the stark reality of the internment camps. With poignancy and sage insight, nationally known historians Linda Gordon and Gary Okihiro illuminate the saga of Japanese American internment: from life before Executive Order 9066 to the abrupt roundups and the marginal existence in the bleak, sandswept camps. In the tradition of Roman Vishniac's A Vanished World, Impounded, with the immediacy of its photographs, tells the story of the thousands of lives unalterably shattered by racial hatred brought on by the passions of war. 104 photographs
A mystery novel by Henry Chang
2006. Soho Books
Detective Jack Yu grew up in Chinatown. Some of his friends are criminals now; some are dead. Jack has just been transferred to his old neighborhood, where 99 percent of the cops are white. Unlike the others, confused by the residents who speak another language even when they're speaking English, Jack knows what's going on. He is confronted with a serial rapist who preys on young Chinese girls. Then Uncle Four, an elderly and respected leader of the charitable Hip Ching Society and member of the Hong Kong-based Red Circle Triad, is gunned down. Jack learns that benevolent Uncle Four had a gorgeous young mistress imported from Hong Kong. And she is missing. To solve these crimes, Jack turns to an elderly fortune teller, an old friend of his, in addition to employing modern police methods. This debut mystery power-fully conveys the sights, sounds, and smells of Chinatown, as well as the attitudes of its inhabitants.
Shenzhen; A Travelogue from China
By Guy Deisle
2006. Drawn and Quarterly
Delisle's Pyongyang (2005) documented two months spent overseeing cartoon production in North Korea's capital. Now he recounts a 1997 stint in the Chinese boomtown Shenzhen. Even a decade ago, China showed signs of Westernization, at least in Special Economic Zones such as Shenzhen, where Delisle found a Hard Rock Cafe and a Gold's Gym. Still, he experienced near-constant alienation. The absence of other Westerners and bilingual Chinese left him unable to ask about baffling cultural differences ranging from exotic shops to the pervasive lack of sanitation. Because China is an authoritarian, not totalitarian, state, and Delisle escaped the oppressive atmosphere with a getaway to nearby Hong Kong, whose relative familiarity gave him "reverse culture shock," Delisle's wittily empathetic depiction of the Western-Chinese cultural gap is less dramatic than that of his Korean sojourn. That said, his creative skill suggests that the comic strip is the ideal medium for such an account. His wry drawings and clever storytelling convey his experiences far more effectively than one imagines a travel journal or film documentary would.
Top of the Class
How Asian Parents Raise High Achievers--and How You Can Too
by Soo Kim Abboud, Jane Y. Kim
Dr. Soo Kim Abboud is a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Asians and Asian-Americans make up 4% of the U.S. population...and 20% of the Ivy League. Now find out how they do it. The numbers speak for themselves: 18% of Harvard's population; 25% of Columbia's; 42% of Berkeley's; 24% of Stanford's; 25% of Cornell's... What are Asian parents doing to start their kids on the road to academic excellence at an early age? What can all parents do to help their children ace tests, strive to achieve, and reach educational goals? In this book, two sisters-a doctor and a lawyer whose parents came from South Korea to the U.S. with two hundred dollars in their pockets-reveal the practices that lead Asian-Americans to academic, professional, and personal success. The authors contend that Asian-Americans are no more intelligent than any other race or ethnic group. They say, "the reason Asian students out-perform their peers in the classroom has nothing to do with how they Click to read more.
Mr. Muo's Travelling Couch
[UNABRIDGED] (Audio CD)
by Dai Sijie, B.D. Wong (Narrator)
Wong's mellifluous, theatrical voice sets the stage for this novel of Muo, a French-trained psychoanalyst who returns to his native China in search of his lost love. Finding her imprisoned by Communist fiat, Muo discovers that the only way to free her is to bring a tyrannical local judge a virgin for his delectation. Sijie's comic-romantic quest becomes a travelogue of the new China, taking in a panoply of voices, a ceaselessly chattering orchestra playing the song of life in the proto-capitalist era. Wong chooses to perform the book as an extended series of monologues, bending and playing with each word like a separate, discretely wrapped treat. Some get whispered silkily, others intoned fitfully, others yet provided with a series of intricately nuanced voices. The book becomes an opportunity for Wong to luxuriate in the sound of Sijie's words and in his own voice. Wong makes his own performance the centerpiece of his reading, and his audacious willingness to place himself at the forefront is a gamble that pays off handsomely, providing a holistic unity that elevates this audiobook over the run of its peers. Click to read more.
MY FIRST CHINESE NEW YEAR
by KAREN KATZ
Holt. December 2004.
In this colorful picture book, a young girl prepares for and celebrates the Chinese New Year with her extended family, describing how she makes an altar to honor her ancestors, gets a haircut, feasts with her relatives, and attends a Chinatown parade. The tale radiates warmth and quietly builds up to the dramatic dragon dance and the traditional greeting of "Gung Hay Fat Choy!" The collage illustrations, cut from paper with colorful Asian designs, also include paint and other media to capture the joyful celebrants. This is a clear introduction to the holiday that young children will enjoy in one-on-one or group read-alouds. Click to read more.
THE CELLULOID WOK
THE USE OF ASIAN CHARACTERS IN NATIONAL AMERICAN TV COMMERCIAL
2005: OLD NAVY: Asian man gives gf an Old Navy gift. She takes it as a sign that he is proposing an engagement
2005: CONTINENTAL AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS: White businessmen doesn't sleep on flight. Bow to Japanese. Falls asleep. Japanese men must stay bowed for long long time, since white man has bowed and fallen asleep in mid-bow.
2005: T MOBILE: Asian man is one of four posers. He wears large bling bling jewelry and acts ghetto. He is one of four ethnic posers. The white T Mobile user selects T Mobile instead of their fee based service.
2005: AXE BODY SPRAY. Hip Asian young men sprays his naked torso, and then he is on a motorcycle in a leather jacket with a young woman attached to his Axe Sprayed body.
2005: Chevrolet Cobalt. Asian man is chased by fifty dogs in his Chevy Cobalt. Up against a fence, the lead dog sniffs the car. Cobalt is a good choice
2005: VERIZON DSL - Two men (white and African American) discuss DSL in an Asian restaurant as an older Asian "waitress" in classic Asian top listens and adds a quip. African American who uses Verizon picks up the check
2005: Young Asian male with skateboard at skateboard park discusses product
2005: HEINEKEN. 2 Asian men shop for beer. African American Cool man enters store. Acts cool. Buys Heineken. Asian men approach cash register with Heineken
2005: VISA BUSINESS CARD. Trevor is a diminutive, slight, short, Asian American assistant to a taller stockier businessman, sort of like a robin to batman, or a takeoff on Futurama character
2005 CINGULAR ITUNES. Asian guy walks as his shadow dances against a wall
2005 AARP. Young-Middle aged Asian man with older looking Asian wife clones himself to do community work, name is Ping
The Asian Mystique: Dragon Ladies, Geisha Girls, & Our Fantasies of the Exotic Orient
by Sheridan Prasso
Public Affairs Press, 2005.
WHY DO non Asian JEWISH MEN MARRY ASIAN WOMEN?
Prasso, who has lived in Phnom Penh and Hong Kong and written for Business Week, nearly turns the fascination of Western men with Asian sexuality into a subject of numbing correctness. Fortunately, though, her determination to explore "our relationships and interactions, our misconceptions and stereotypes" doesn't suck the life from her compelling topic--perhaps because she is not above taking readers into the girlie bars of Bangkok and Manila, the personals ("Red Hot Asians") of the Village Voice, the cinemas and TV screens of West and East, even the home of Mineko Iwasaki, who inspired Arthur Golden's best-selling Memoirs of a Geisha. Using this frame of reference effectively, Prasso explains the symbiotic nature of Western fantasy and Asian fulfillment--often to great profit--of that fantasy, the roles that Asian women play and defy in the West, even the dangerous implications of this still-active fantasy upon global politics. Especially interesting are her observations on the emasculated role of Asian men in Western media--picture, for instance, Jackie Chan even kissing a Western woman. Click to read more.
Escape to Manila
From Nazi Tyranny to Japanese Terror
By Frank Ephraim
2008. University of Illinois Press
With the rise of Nazism in the 1930s more than a thousand European Jews sought refuge in the Philippines, joining the small Jewish population of Manila. When the Japanese invaded the islands in 1941, the peaceful existence of the barely settled Jews filled with the kinds of uncertainties and oppression they thought they had left behind. Escape to Manila gathers the testimonies of thirty-six refugees, who describe the difficult journey to Manila, the lives they built there, and the events surrounding the Japanese invasion. Combining these accounts with historical and archival records, Manila newspapers, and U.S. government documents, Frank Ephraim constructs a detailed account of this little-known chapter of world history.
Click to read more.
World Famous Love Acts
by Brian Leung
Leung, a teacher at California State University Northridge and recipient of the Mary McCarthy Prize for Short Fiction has written this collection of well-crafted narratives with unique characters in well-constructed settings. At a time when so many stories are hyped and filled with the antics of celebutantes, it is refreshing to read about singular characters who are far from cliché. The author wields his adjectives the way a surgeon controls a scalpel. His descriptions of the California skies and landscapes are hallowed and resplendent. Some stories are like grenades. The full impact of the scenes did not hit me until a few minutes after finishing each story's final paragraph. The collection's title suggests that the stories are about love, yet the cover art is of a noose. The stories concern quiet, unspoken, suppressed loves and losses of a different sort - the type with inner conversations that are never vocalized. Some characters think they are filled with insights, but actually know nothing; and others who long for connections with other people, even though those people are standing next to them in the same room. So much is conveyed in the silences between the stories' vulnerable characters. In one story, the people who walk across hot coals of a firewalk numb themselves to the feelings and truth, just as family members do in everyday life. In another story, a family that never speaks what they fell in meaningful words, ponder whether they have to put their pet "to sleep." In another, an aging archeologist is more at home digging up buried artifacts or leaving them buried than digging up her own family memories. In my favorite, "White Hand," a son who is trying to be devoted feels that he is a tourist in his own culture. He goes through the motions, but like a reptile, is it just a skin that will be shed? Click to read more.
(the electronic adventures of The Chestnut Man)
by B.D. Wong)
May 2003. HarperEntertainment. On May 28, 2001, the actor/singer B.D. Wong and his talent agent partner, Richard Jackson, became fathers in Modesto, CA. Their twin sons were woefully, dangerously, 3 months prematurely born. Over the next several months, Wong kept his friends informed of their progress, ups and downs, through a series of emails. These introspective, mesmerizing, hopeful, honest emails got passed around, and have been compiled to create this book. At times it elicits chuckles, sometimes you will thank god for unsung heroic healthcare workers, and at other times your eyes will well with tears. The book is an adventurous journey into fatherhood, Jewish and Chinese American families, medical miracles, social work, gynecology, as well as sprinkling asides into life in television and film acting. The book is impossible to put down, as you hunger to learn whether first-born Boaz Dov Wong (Boaz: the swift, strong, giving biblical character who rescues Ruth and fathers the ancestors of King David; Dov: the quiet strength of a bear) and younger Jackson Foo Wong (Jackson/Yohanan: for his father's surname, graciousness of god; Foo: wealth, for his paternal grandfather) will survive and thrive. For readers who need linear stories, start with Chapter 8; all other can begin with the Preface. Click to read more.
MAKING OUT IN JAPANESE
by TODD GEERS
A fun language book with phrases used in dating. The books in the Making Out series are fun and accessible guides to languages as they're spoken on the street. This classic phrase book has been updated and expaded for use in informal situations such as bars, parties, or anywhere else one needs to know slang to survive! This book now features phrases written in their native script as well as in English, so the book can be show to the person you are trying to communicate with. With transcriptions revised for easier pronunciation and numerous notes on points of language use and culture, these helpful books will have you making out in no time!! Click to read more.
A handy guide to the Korean language, Survival Korean contains basic vocabulary necessary for getting around. The pronunciation for each Korean word in the book follows a precise and simple formula that will quickly become so familiar that speaking Korean shortly feels just as "normal" as conversing in English. The material is divided into four parts, including:Common Expressions and Key Words; Essential Communication Tools; Travel Vocabulary and Useful Expressions; Pronunciation Guides for Key Names and Signs. Each part contains a range of relevant vocabulary, useful phrases, and the minimum of grammatical explanation needed to allow users to convey exactly what they want to say. The book also contains an A-Z index with more than 1,000 additional words and their pronunciation for quick reference.Click to read more.
Civility in the City: Blacks, Jews, and Koreans in Urban America
by Jennifer Lee (UC-Irvine)
September 2002. Harvard. Irvine sociologist, Jennifer Lee, explores conflicts between Korean store owners and black residents and customers, and Jewish store owners and their black customers in New York City and Philadelphia. Transactions are pleasant and routine, and then tensions escalate. Why? See also Bitter Fruit by Claire Jean Kim. Click to read more.
Burnt Bread and Chutney: Memoirs of an Indian Jewish Girl
by Carmit Delman (agent=Jennifer Rudolph Walsh)
September 2002. Carmit Delman is descended from the Bene Israel, an ancient community of Indian Jews. American-born, raised in Cleveland, she studied at a Jewish day school, Brandeis University and Emerson College. In the politics of skin color, Carmit Delman is an ambassador from a world of which few are even aware. Her mother is a direct descendant of the Bene Israel, a tiny, ancient community of Jews thriving amidst the rich cultural tableau of Western India. Her father is American, a Jewish man of Eastern European descent. It was bagel and chutney. They met while working the land of a nascent Israeli state. Bound by love for each other and that newborn country, they hardly took notice of the interracial aspect of their union. But their daughter, Carmit, growing up in America, was well aware of her uncommon heritage. Burnt Bread and Chutney is a remarkable synthesis of the universal and the exotic. Carmit Delman's memories of the sometimes painful, sometimes pleasurable, often awkward moments of her adolescence juxtapose strikingly with mythic tales of her female ancestors living in the Indian-Jewish community. As rites and traditions, smells and textures intertwine, Carmit's unique cultural identity evolves. It is a youth spent dancing on the roofs of bomb shelters on a kibbutz in Israel-and the knowledge of a heritage marked by arranged marriages and archaic rules and roles, such as never contradicting a man. It is coming of age in Jewish summer camps, materialistic synagogues, and at KISS concerts-and the inevitable combination of old and new: ancient customs, conformity, and modern attitudes, Jewish, Indian, and American. When she moved to Israel, she found that it is even worse when it comes to racial strictures. Her reflections on Nana-bai, her relation, will make this a must read for most Jewish reading groups. Carmit Delman's journey through religious traditions, family tensions, and social tribulations to a healthy sense of wholeness and self is rendered with grace and an acute sense of depth. Burnt Bread and Chutney is a rich and innovative book that opens wide a previously unseen world. Click to read more.
The Eater's Guide to Chinese Characters
by James D. McCawley
University of Chicago Press; (May 1, 2004)
Did you ever go to a Chinese restaurant and see the menu items in Chinese characters posted on the wall. This book, after much study, can help you figure out if the chicken legs are actually chicken feet, if the bun is pork filled or not, and if the items are steamed and fried. The book includes a Chinese character dictionary focusing on words likely to be used in menus. The pronunciations are given in Mandarin. Click to read more.
EAT EVERYTHING BEFORE YOU DIE
A CHINATOWN IN THE COUNTERCULTURE
by JEFFREY PAUL CHAN
University of Washington. October 2004
In this vibrant and original novel, Christopher Columbus Wong, an orphan son of a Chinatown bachelor community (Think of the film and book, EAT A BOWL OF TEA, updated to the next generation), is trying to invent a family for himself while all around him American popular culture is reinventing itself with sex, drugs, and rock and roll. As the country's mores shift and change, Christopher recalls his own disputed origins, and finds himself on a wild journey with his gay older brother, Peter, a pan-Pacific chef and public television's "Peter Pan"; the defrocked, deranged, and eroding ex-director of a Chinatown settlement house, Reverend Ted Candlewick, dismissed for pedophilia; the sharp-eyed, conspiring matriarch Auntie Mary, the bridge between the conflicting values that make up this cultural stew; and the dying Uncle Lincoln, a remnant of the transient bachelor society, and, quite possibly, Christopher's and Peter's father. The unique cast of characters complicating Christopher's quest also includes his ex-wives: Winnie, a Hong Kong immigrant looking for a green card, who leaves him only to become Uncle Lincoln's wife; and Melba, an American orphan of the counterculture, who abandons Christopher when she finds a more authentic Asian from the most recent refugee communities spawned at the end of the Vietnam War. Throughout Christopher's voyage to discover his past, the imaginary China he and his family have envisioned in their American diaspora collides with the reality of China at the end of the millennium. Set against the backdrop of America's wars in Asia and the assimilation of that experience-the refugees, the stereotypes, the food--Eat Everything Before You Die is an ironic commentary on the identities the children of Chinese American immigrants concoct from their questionable histories, cultural practices, and survival strategies. Click to read more.
Nine Decades of Adventure, Espionage, and Diplomacy in Asia
by James R. Lilley
Public Affairs, May 2004
James Lilley served on the operations side of the CIA, working on China, from 1951-74. He then switched to analysis and diplomacy, serving as U.S. representative in Taipei in 1982-84 and ambassador in Beijing in 1989-91, among other posts. One therefore combs his memoir for hints about how well U.S. intelligence understood China over those 40 years. Until 1972, China was tightly closed. If there were significant intelligence triumphs, they remain confidential. But Lilley is frank about the frustrations. The agency's air-dropped agents disappeared, agency-supported Kuomintang military probes fizzled, the British authorities in Hong Kong forbade the Americans to try to penetrate Chinese offices there until 1968, and around the same time the CIA discovered that its main partner, Taiwan intelligence, was thoroughly compromised. Until Nixon opened China in 1972, the CIA seems to have known little more about the Chinese famine, the cultural revolution or Mao's interest in an opening to the United States than did any of the diligent graduate students who were, like them, sitting in Hong Kong interviewing refugees and decoding official propaganda. Lilley went to Beijing in 1973 as the first CIA station chief, with Mao's consent (given to Kissinger). He could not do any real spying, but he biked around the city mapping safe houses, noted military installations and set up a secure communications channel inside the U.S. mission. He formed a close relationship with the second head of the office, George H.W. Bush, who years later appointed him to the China ambassadorship. Back in Washington, he played a key role in initiating intelligence-sharing with Beijing directed against the Soviet Union. Lilley hints at a later enhancement of this arrangement but does not explain it. Click to read more.
Retracing the Path of an Ancient Buddhist Monk Who Crossed Asia in Search of Enlightenment
by Richard Bernstein
NOW IN PAPERBACK ALSO.
As Bernstein quotes in the book, "No ship ever takes you away from yourself." And just as Conrad's journeys in the Congo were deeper than just a boat ride, Bernstein's travels through China, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Kazakhstan and India are not only a travelogue, but a personal journey at age 50. Most American school children are familiar with Marco Polo, who traveled from Europe to Asia. Some Jewish children are familiar with Benjamin of Tudela, a Jewish explorer. But nearly none are familiar with Hsuan Tsang, a Monk who lived in 603-664, who was the greatest land traveler in history. Nearly all Asian children know of his esteemed adventures. Hsuan Tsang wrote "The Great Tang Chronicles of The Western World", based on his over fifteen years and 10,000 miles of journeys, journeys made by foot, horse, camel, and elephant. While Marco Polo sought riches, Monk Hsuan Tsang sought the source of reality and Buddhist Wisdom (although his emperor sought details to help craft military and political policies). Fast forward over 1,300 years. The author, raised on a chicken farm, is a book critic for The New York Times. He is a former Harvard Chinese History student, was a Peace Corps volunteer (in China), and was Time Magazine's Beijing bureau chief. When he turned fifty years of age, Bernstein, unmarried (half a man as the Talmud wrote) and antsy, moody and difficult to please, decided to fulfill some promises that he made to himself. These included sailing to Tahiti, reading Proust, writing a novel, making furniture, and, oh, yes, following the 5,000 mile route of Hsuan Tsang from China to Southern India. And so, Bernstein gets some time off from The Times, packs a bag, flies to Hong Kong and Xian China, and embarks on Hsuan Tsang's trek (although his Chinese American girlfriend does join this commitment-phobe for part of the trip). A great read for 2001.
Jewish readers will especially want to read Chapter 16, in which Bernstein, arriving in West Bengal on a Friday afternoon, seeks out the Calcutta synagogue he had noted in 1970. Seeking to satiate a desire for tribal attachment, he finds the Sephardic services at the Canning Street shul (no longer on Synagogue Street), and is the tenth man for the Shabbat minyan.
by Philip Gambone (Harvard)
April 2003. University of Wisconsin. David Masiello, grieving, accepts a position at a medical clinic in Beijing. He chronicles his adventures, his loneliness, his cultural dislocation, and the unknown corners of Beijing. Lots of entertaining characters, roommates, and love interests. Click to read more.
The Language of Blood
by Jane Jeong Trenka
2003. Adoption memoirs are not rare, but this one stands out because of the quality of the writing and because of the aspect of adoption it portrays. Jane at six months and sister Carol, at four and a half, Korean by birth, were adopted by a Minnesota couple with strong German Lutheran roots. The girls were from a home beset by poverty and the drunken abuse of their birth father. Being sent away was an act of love by their Korean mother. Their adoptive parents loved the girls and raised them as their own. And here lies the problem for Jane. Their Korean identity was never addressed, leaving her with a strong sense of not belonging in either culture. Eventual contact with her birth family leads to a rift with her American parents. Click to read more.
Sixteen Years In Sixteen Seconds
The Sammy Lee Story
by PAULA YOO, Dom Lee (Illustrator)
May 1, 2005.
Gr. 2-4. Booklist writes: In her first picture book, winner of the publisher's New Voices Award, Yoo introduces Sammy Lee, the son of Korean immigrants who overcame formidable odds to become an Olympic diving champion as well as a doctor. In 1932, at the age of 12, Sammy fell in love with diving, but his local pool was open only once a week to nonwhites. He faced opposition at home, too; his father wanted him to focus on a "respectful" profession--medicine. Yoo describes how Sammy found a coach, maintained a grueling balance between academics and training, and finally earned both a medical degree and an Olympic gold medal. The minimal, well-shaped language focuses on powerful scenes that demonstrate Sammy's indestructible determination, his struggles with his father, and the prejudice he faced. Washed in nostalgic sepia tones, Dom Lee's acrylic-and-wax textured illustrations are reminiscent of his fine work in Ken Mochizuki's watershed Baseball Saved Us (1993), and like Yoo's understated words, the uncluttered images leave a deep impression; an aerial view of Sammy facing the blue expanse of the Olympic pool is particularly affecting. A page of facts closes this handsome, inspiring biography, which will make both an excellent read-aloud for younger children or a read-alone for confident older ones. Click to read more.
DIM SUM, BAGELS, AND GRITS
by Myra Alperson
FSG, March 2001. Myra adopted a daughter from China. She was single and over 40. Who doesn't know someone at home, work, synagogue, or life who hasn't adopted from China or elsewhere? This is an invaluable handbook and RESOURCE (with listings) for multicultural adoptions and family creation. Read it to prepare for some of the issues you will face (stares, family disapproval, outright racism). Dim Sum, Bagels, and Grits sound different at first, but they are all breakfast foods, and they are all based on a grain. The same holds for families. They may be shaped or sound differently, but they are all based on in this case on kids, who underneath are all the same. I wanted to make sure that I recommended this book today, February 27, 2001. This week, the U.S. Child Citizenship Act takes effect, which makes it much easier to and quicker to provide children adopted from abroad with U.S. citizenship. It is nearly automatic for most children. But I digress, let's discuss Ms Alperson's sourcebook. Each year in the USA, about 15% of all adoptions are of children born outside the USA. (About 20,000 children last year, about 16,000 per year in the past few years, and several hundred thousand over the past 40 years). These parents, grandparents, and children, adopted across what are perceived as racial, ethnic and cultural boundaries, face a harder time than some other adoptions, since there is the added bonus of multiculturalism. Alperson's sourcebook is an excellent guide and a must read for anyone considering adoption or raising a multicultural family. As the adoptive mother of Sadie Zhenzhen Alperson, she speaks from experience. She tells the stories of strangers not thinking that her daughter and she are daughter and mother. She discusses the need to honor both the child's birth heritage and the new family's heritage, and finding mentors and role models (American, Chinese, and Jewish in Alperson's case). Speaking of religion, she also discusses the subject of religious practice and preferences in the new family. (Sadly, you know that some imbecile is going to tell Sadie one day, "funny you don't look Jewish"; hopefully you can protect your child from those relatives who will make them feel that they are in the family as part of some sort of affirmative action program). Speaking of which, a full chapter is devoted to the many forms of prejudice that adoptive families can face. The chapter also includes actual accounts of how other families have responded to prejudice. Alperson gives advice on finding and forming groups where your child can play with children who "look like" them, and what to do if that isn't possible. The sourcebook provides a compendium of resources that can help you create, and strengthen multicultural homes, and it also will help you to understand what it means to be multicultural. Alperson includes interviews with adopted children and experts in the field. The bottom line is (1) read it if your are adopting; (2) read it if you know families facing these issues, (3) read it if you are teaching children from these families, and (4) read it if you minister or lead congregations with multicultural families.
THE FUGU PLAN
The Untold Story of the Japanese and the Jews During World War Two
by Marvin Tokayer and Mary Swartz
An Excellent history. In all the literature of the Holocaust and of World War II, the story of the European Jews who fled across the world to the unlikely haven of Japan has remained untold -- until now. The Fugu Plan: The Untold Story Of The Japanese And The Jews During World War Two is a powerful narrative which follows a group of these refugees throughout their journey across Stalin's Russia, their experiences in Japan, and their struggle for survival in an Asian ghetto. Interwoven with this moving saga are the details of an astounding top-secret plan to create an "Israel in Asia" under Japanese control by offering displaced European Jews a safe haven in Manchuria in return for the financial and technical skills they would bring to this outpost of the Japanese Empire. Although this so-called "Fugu Plan" would founder with Japan's entry into the Tripartite Pact with Nazi Germany and Italy in 1940, its legacy, as the Holocaust swept over Europe, was the survival of thousands of Jews issued Japanese transit visas and given wartime refuge in Asia. That they survived at all is testimony to the courage of many individuals, both Japanese and Jews, whose stories are told here - and to the seeds planted by the unlikely vision embodied in The Fugu Plan. An important and vital addition to the Judaic studies collection about an almost unknown aspect of the holocaust experience.
THE YEAR CHINA DISCOVERED AMERICA
by Gavin Menzies
January 2003, William Morrow. 552 Pages. Menzies posits the hypothesis that Chinese explorers landed in the New World in 1421, before Columbus and his ships in 1492. I posit that my Uncle Murray floated on a bagel in 1420, didn't find any Chinese food, so returned to Europe, but who am I to quibble. Because China burned the records of its historic expeditions led by Zheng He, the famed eunuch admiral and the focus of this account, Menzies is forced to defend his argument by compiling a tedious package of circumstantial evidence that ranges from reasonable to ridiculous. While the book does contain some compelling claims-for example, that the Chinese were able to calculate longitude long before Western explorers-drawn from Menzies's experiences at sea, his overall credibility is undermined by dubious research methods. Click to read more reviews.
BODY AND FACE IN CHINESE VISUAL CULTURE
Hung Wu and Katherine R. Tsang (University of Chicago)
Harvard University Press, December 2004.
The 12 contributors to this monograph take the middle road in the middle kingdom, and agree that Chinese images are conditioned by indigenous traditions and dynamics of social interaction, but they seek to explain a general Chinese body and face by charting multiple, specific bodies and faces. Images, such as the Han Dynasty tomb figurines, Buddhist illustrations, pictures of ghosts, illness, deformity; formal portraiture; and modern pictures and films are studied. Click to read more reviews.
Opening to You:
Zen-Inspired Translations of the Psalms
by Norman Fischer
Paperback edition. 3/2003. The first thing that strikes you is that the back cover blurbs are by Jewish born Buddhists Jack Kornfeld, Sylvia Boostein, Daniel Ladinsky, and Lama Surya Das (born Jeffrey Miller), as well as Rabbi Zalman Schechter-Shalomi and Bendictine Father Laurence Freeman. A week with the Trappist monks of Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky left Norman Fischer feeling inspired by the uplifting, soaring verses chanted each day, but he was also astonished by the violence, passion, and bitterness they expressed. This experience started him on a journey through eastern and western spirituality and his own Jewish roots, resulting in these moving and intimate translations of the Psalms. Fischer's aim was to translate the Psalms in a way that would convey their beauty and power in accessible English for readers of every spiritual path or religious background. In ninety-three poems of praise, celebration, suffering, and lamentation, he brings the Psalms alive for today's readers, revealing an interfaith aspect to these sacred songs that is completely contemporary. For example... Psalm 23: A Psalm of David. the Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in straight paths for His name's sake. Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me
is transformed into "You are my shepherd; I am content / You lead me to rest in the sweet grasses / To Lie down by the quiet waters / And I am refreshed / You lead me down the right path / The path that unwinds in the pattern of your name / And even if I walk through the valley of the shadow of death / I will fear not / For you are with me / Comforting me with your rod and staff / Showing me each step.
On Taking My Adopted Daughter Back To Her Hometown in China
by Emily Prager
Prager, a novelist, adopted an unwanted Chinese baby girl from Wuhu, China. She returns to Wuhu with her adopted daughter, LuLu, in search of her birth parents, in an attempt to deal with doubts, etc. Written in diary format. An interesting read. PW writes: Childless and in her 40s, novelist Prager realized that her generation has taken a terribly long time to "understand what children could bring us." Ironically ...., she took advantage of the sexism that has emerged in the execution of China's "one-child policy" and adopted an unwanted baby girl from Wuhu, a village in southern China. This is the journal of the return voyage Prager made with LuLu, her five-year-old daughter, in an effort to come to terms with the circumstances of her adoption and to reintroduce LuLu to her roots. Acknowledging that travel with young children often "opens different doors," she recounts her visits with LuLu to nursery schools, hospital waiting rooms and delightfully "un-p.c." amusement parks, instead of museums and national monuments. As LuLu becomes a "local," hanging out with the hotel's bellboys, chambermaids and musicians, Prager wanders the department stores and watches TV, in between futile efforts to find out more about LuLu's birthparents. In the end, it's the whole process they've gone through that lessens LuLu's adoption angst, rather than learning the circumstances of her adoption: "She came back from China... unencumbered by old doubts or anxieties, having reclaimed... some essential part of her self." Writing in a "daily diary" format, Prager keeps the pages turning. By the end, the unsent letter she wrote to the undiscovered birth parents, explaining all the ways she would love their child, may inspire a few tears
A Memoir of the World War II Jewish Ghetto
by Ernest G. Heppner
We tend to think that the Jewish ghettos of World War II were in Europe, but Heppner's eloquent memoir of this little-known event in Holocaust history is set in Shanghai, China. The author was the youngest child of a matzoth factory owner in Breslau, Germany. In 1939, with the rise of anti-Semitism, Heppner and his mother sailed to Shanghai. In 1943, Japanese soldiers confined the 18,000 Jewish refugees in Shanghai to an area less than one mile square. The book begins with Heppner's account of life in Germany and the harassment and beatings he suffered because he was a Jew; it goes on to describe the Nuremberg laws restricting Jews and the infamous Kristallnacht. Heppner continues with a day-to-day account of what he calls the three h's--hunger, heat, and humidity--in the Shanghai ghetto, where he married, and he ends with his family's voyage to America in 1945 after the liberation of China.
A Jewish Childhood in Wartime Shanghai
by Sigmund Tobias
Tobias....fled Germany along with his parents in the wake of Kristallnacht; without visas, they had few options and made their way to the Japanese-controlled Hongkew section of Shanghai. Tobias recounts a moving story of both hardships (which intensified after Pearl Harbor) and friendships, as he struggled to maintain his orthodox lifestyle in an area known for its pleasures and temptations, even studying for a time in the renowned Mirrer yeshiva. Tobias offers personal insight into the anxieties, dislocation, and cultural classes of the time
IN SEARCH OF SUGIHARA
The Elusive Japanese Diplomat Who Risked His Life to Rescue 10,000 Jews from the Holocaust
by Hillel Levine
In 1940, Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese vice-consul in Kovno, Lithuania, issued an estimated 3,400 transit visas for Jews to travel eastward through Moscow and Siberia, then to Japan and beyond. Sugihara ultimately granted visas to anyone who applied, no matter what documents or what explanation for not having documents they offered. Some sources put the number of Jews Sugihara saved during the Holocaust as high as 10,000. On September 1, 1940, Soviet authorities ordered him to leave the city. Sugihara later served in Prague, Konigsberg, and Bucharest before returning to Japan at the end of World War II, where he was ordered to resign. Sugihara died in 1986, thus much of what is known about him comes from his wife and oldest son. Levine interviewed them as well as other relatives and some of the Jews he saved. This is not quite the "untold story" claimed by the publisher, but Levine has done a meticulous job of research in bringing to life the man and his act of courage.
When You Were Born in China
A Memory Book for Children Adopted from China
by Sara Dorow
Each page is filled with pictures of China and a couple of easy sentences about Chinese history, beauty, culture, and how kids enjoy Coke and dumplings when they can splurge. Includes sentences that tell about the adoption process, and reinforce the point that the child is loved. Discusses how laws by China's leaders allow only one child per family, and how Chinese parents LOVE children, but ancient ideas about male babies are hard to overcome in some families, and girls get placed for adoption to other loving couples. Encouraging. Primary idea is that your (the child's) story began in China
Oral Histories of First to Fourth Generation Americans from China, the Philippines, Japan, India, the Pacific Islands, Vietnam ...
by Joann Faung Jean Lee
Studs Terkel meets Asian America. The author, affiliated with Queens College at the time the book was compiled, records oral histories from first through fourth generation Asian Americans from China, Cambodia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Japan, and Pacific Islands. (Chinese immigrants began to officially arrive in 1848; they were not allowed to apply for citizenship until 1943. Japanese and Koreans were not allowed citizenship until 1952; Filipinos and Asian Indians beat them by six years) These histories are grouped into three major section: Living In America; Americanization; and Refections on Interracial Marriage. In "Living In America", selections include Will Hao on being a true Hawaiian, and Andrea Kim on being born and raised in Hawaii, but not being Hawaiian. Sam Sue, a Chinese American lawyer, talks about growing up bitterly in Clarksdale Mississippi during a time of segregation. The Americanization section includes stories of escape and exodus, the bumpy road of acculturation, 3 stories just on run-ins with traffic cops (driving while Asian), and over 9 stories on Americanization, racism, tension, being Asian versus being American, and even on being a minority within a minority. Cao O discusses life as an ethnic Chinese in Vietnam and being Chinese-Vietnamese in America and dealing with social service agencies in Chinatown that is staffed by Hong-Kong born Chinese. In "No Tea, Thank You", Setsuko K. discusses the subtleties between the generations, such as politeness and their hidden meanings (when "no" means "yes", and "yes" means "no"). In a sub-section of nine stories about family, Cao O discusses the idea of 'obligation', while Hideo K talks about the "Company as Friend". Tony Ham discusses Mah-Jonng as a family social focus. In a sub-section on religion, there is an interesting piece on Koreans and church membership. In one of eight stories on "Interracial Marriage", Jody Sandler writes talks about "So He's Not a Jewish Doctor", in which a 23 year old Woodmere Long Island Five Town girl marries an Asian America and faces pressures from family and friends, and contrasts Tony's values with those she grew up with in Five Towns.
by Alexander Chee
Paperback edition. November 2002. Winner of the Asian American Literary Award for Fiction 2002. I would like to recommend this book without giving any of the plot away. The author is Amerasian and in this book he has mixed East and West, an Eastern myth within the form of a Greek tragedy. Like a tragedy, the novel opens with a prologue, which I think should be read at the beginning and end of the book to get the full effect of the story. What follows is not a tragey's parados chorus, but the story of some Maine choir boys. The present tense prose is so lyrical, the reader is drawn in; like a car accident you can't help but look at, even though it may be painful, you read on. The lake at the choir's summer camp appears still, but the author shows that the ripples from the choir master's abuses are waves that run deep, wide, and unseen; they are as devastating as the wake of the Black Plague.
Twelve-year-old Fee is a gifted Korean-American soprano in a boys' choir in Maine whose choir director reveals himself to be a serial pedophile. Fee and his friends are forced to bear grief, shame, and pain that endure long after the director is imprisoned. Fee survives even as his friends do not, but a deep-seated horror and dread accompany him through his self-destructive college days and after, until the day he meets a beautiful young student named Warden and is forced to confront the demons of his brutal past
by Yoshiko Uchidaby
In the first illustration we see two typically Californian homes with cars in their driveways. One has a "For Sale" sign on its front steps. Emi, a second grader, sits and waits. Her father has been sent to a prison camp in Montana, and soon the FBI will take her, her sister, and her mother to a detention center and then to a detention camp in Utah. Emi and her family are Japanese Americans in California. It is 1942, and the United States is at war with Japan. Emi and 120,000 other Japanese Americans (80,000 of them citizens) were sent to detention centers due to their ethnic heritage by the U.S. government; their rights were abrogated. There is a knock at the door. Is it the FBI? No, it's her friend and neighbor Laurie. She gives Emi a gift, a bracelet, with which to remember her by. They hug. Emi and her family, allowed just a couple of suitcases, are sent with other from San Francisco to a racetrack which has been converted to a detention center. They see guards with guns and bayonets, and as they pass a boarded up grocery store, we see a sign in the drawing, saying that the store owners are "loyal Americans." When Emi loses the bracelet after arriving at the detention center, she learns that a person can remember people and families in the absence of physical items and personal effects. An afterword explains the historical events and the redress made by the US Federal government under Presidents Ford and Carter. Yoshiko is also the author of The Invisible Thread, her account of a childhood in detention.
In Search of Sugihara
The Elusive Japanese Diplomat Who Risked His Life to Rescue 10,000 Jews from the Holocaust
by Hillel Levine
Five years old at the time, Hiroki Sugihara tells the poignant story of how his father saved the lives of 10,000 Jews while he was serving as a Japanese diplomat in Lithuania in 1940. Going against the explicit orders of his government, he sat night after night hand-writing exit visas for people trying to escape from the Nazis. The sepia-tones of the illustrations lend a serious, appropriate dignity to the people the artist so beautifully portrays
Jews in Old China : Studies by Chinese Scholars
by Sidney Shapiro
Shapiro, "our man" in Beijing and peking during the Cultural Revolution, provides a broad compilation, easy to read Jewish history from the perspective of non-Jewish Chinese scholars is both fascinating and curious
Legends of the Chinese Jews of Kaifeng
by Xin Xu, Beverly Friend, Ting Cheng (Illustrator), Cheng Ting
Enjoyable folktales on the arrival and life of the Jews in Kaifeng, China. The anti-Semitic fervor of 11th-century Crusaders drove a community of Jews from their home on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean, in what is now Turkey. They eventually settled in Kaifeng, then the capital of China under the Song Dynasty. There they built a synagogue in 1163, and maintained their cultural and religious identity into the 19th century. By the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the Kaifeng Jews reached a population peak of 5000.
a novel by Pearl Buck
novel that stars the Kaifeng Jewish community
Dreaming of Gold, Dreaming of Home. Transnationalism and Migration Between the United States and South China, 1882-1943
by Madeline Y. Hsu, SFSU
Professor Hsu writes about the contacts between those who left China for the United States (Gold Mountain). The majority of Chinese in The United States before 1965 came from Taishan county in South China. Click for more information.
FREE TO DIE FOR THEIR COUNTRY
The Story of the Japanese American Draft Resisters in World War II (The Chicago Series in Law and Society)
by Eric L Muller
We know about the 120,000 Americans of Japanese heritage who were imprisoned and interned in ten concentration camps in the USA during WWII By Order of President Roosevelt and the Army, in places like Tule Lake, Heart Mountain, and Minidoka. We know about the young men, the Nisei, who served their country in the 100th Battalion and 442nd regimental combat team in Italy and Europe, while their families were stripped of their civil rights and property. But what about those young men who resisted the draft since they had no civil rights? What of those who were imprisoned and never pardoned? In hindsight, weren't they just as courageous? What about the courage of Federal Judge Louis Goodman, an American of Jewish religion (see his 1947 sermon speech at Temple Emanu El in San Francisco)? The author of this book, the son of a Jewish refugee from Europe, the grandson of a man who was sent briefly to Buchenwald from Frankfurt, and was tagged an enemy alien chicken farmer in the Southern New Jersey, has written this excellent, well researched book that will be an excellent resource to students of U.S. history.
Bridge Across Broken Time
Chinese and Jewish Cultural Memory
by Professor Vera Schwarcz
No, this is not about the strength of Chinese cuisine in the American Jewish community. It is about memory and metaphor. How do Jews and Chinese preserve and transmit their cultures. Should we begin to speak of Judeo-Confucian values rather than Judeo-Christian? What did Chinese culture do without the wrath of the god-inspired prophets? This is an original, thoughtful, poetic study from Wesleyan Professor of East Asian Studies Vera Schwarcz. In October 1979, Schwarcz, the daughter of Transylvanian Holocaust survivors, was studying in Beijing. It was Yom Kippur. Inside her dorm room, she was fasting and reading Wiesel's Les Chants des Morte." Outside, the authorities were closing the Democracy Wall. She was struck by the way both Jewish and Chinese cultures act to preserve and transmit fragments of cultural memories, in light of the powers that attempt to eradicate them, namely the Shoah and the Cultural Revolution. Amnesia is a relief from recollection. But both Jewish (if I forget thee..) and Chinese (If you lose the past, the will easily crumbles) cultures reward people for remembrance. This book enlightened me to the Judeo-Confucian tradition; the rabbi and the scholar; Halakha and Li; Rabbi Hillel and Confucius' disciple Mencius; the role of the Jewish prophets; and the lack of the socially just god in China with which one could fight imperial power. Did you know that the metaphoric poetry of Yehudah Amichai is used in China to remember Tiananmen Square? How do the concept of gesher (bridge) and kesher (tying knot) in the Midrash and Bratslaver-Hasidism compare to qiaoliang (bridge) and ren (endurance) and the writings of Yeng Shen? What can be learned from the midrash on god blessing Adam and Eve with the gift of amnesia and the Chinese tale of Old Lady Meng's Soup, which is a broth of amnesia? These are just a few of the questions she explores. I found this book fascinating. .
Mandarins, Jews, and Missionaries
The Jewish Experience in the Chinese Empire
by Michael Pollak
The history of the Chinese Jews makes fascinating reading. The oldest extant records of Jews in China are a letter written around 718 A.D. in Judeo-Persian (Persian written with Hebrew letters) on paper that was made in China, and a selichah from the ninth century composed of Hebrew scriptures (pictures of both on pp. 262-63). After sifting through a great mass of literature on the subject, Pollak concludes that the Jews of Kaifeng probably began to arrive between 960 and 1126 A.D., building the first synagogue in 1163 (chap. 13). The settlement in Kaifeng was probably the largest, and certainly the most visible, Jewish settlement in China, numbering up to a few thousand. This community maintained contact with the Jewish world outside China until the sixteenth century, when the Ming dynasty forbade such contact. There continued to be a synagogue (rebuilt at least three times) until the 1860s, by which time services were not being held, and destitute members of the kehillah (community) sold off the building materials to ameliorate their poverty, which had been brought on by a flood. Part One, "The World and the Chinese Jews," concerns the interest that the West took in the Jewish population of China. This part of the book discusses two issues in depth. The first of these is the "Chinese Rites Controversy" at the turn of the 18th century, an issue of interest to those involved in Jewish evangelism. This controversy was a debate over the nature of missionary methodology which involved different mission societies, mainly Catholic orders. The Jesuits wanted to allow their converts to maintain as many of their customs and Confucian ceremonies as possible so that they would feel free to become Christians, and thus more would convert. On the other hand, the Dominicans and Franciscans claimed that in allowing such cultural trappings, the Jesuits were not producing real converts. Here the Kaifeng Jews entered the picture. The church wanted to know how much Confucian ritual and custom they-the Jews-allowed, and what Chinese terms they used to refer to God, in order to serve as possible guidelines for their own principles. The second part of the book focuses on the Jews of Kaifeng.
JEWS IN THE JAPANESE MIND
by by David G. Goodman, Masanori Miyazawa
Oddly, although the Japanese believe that Jews "control the media" and "dominate international finance, " they do not fear and hate Jews; rather they admire and strive to be more like them. This intellectual history of modern Japan uses Japanese attitudes about Jews as a prism for examining the peculiar isolation of the Japanese mind, even as it contemplates a world in which Japan is ever more powerful
The Barbarians Are Coming
by David Wong Louie
n David Wong Louie's finely crafted, funny, and exceptionally well-written coming-of-age story set in the late '70s, a young Chinese American struggles toward the American dream of affluence, leaving behind his befuddled immigrant parents and their small apartment over their laundry business. The narrator of The Barbarian's Are Coming has been trained at the Culinary Institute of America and is ready to rise to any challenge a capon or a champignon can offer. Newly appointed resident chef of the Richfield Ladies' Club in Connecticut, Sterling Lung ignores his well-coifed employers' urgings that he cook Chinese food for them. His father, on the other hand, who wanted Sterling to become a doctor, takes his revenge by never allowing his son to cook for him. Aging and unwell, he nurses a bittersweet anger at having raised a child who knows almost nothing about his family's culture, who speaks little Chinese, and who prides himself on his ignorance of Chinese cooking. On the one occasion Sterling is allowed to cook in her kitchen, his mother scowls over his shoulder, criticizing every move. "You call yourself a chef?" she prods him. DID I MENTION THAT HIS LOVE IS JEWISH?
A STEP FROM HEAVEN
by An Na
2001. When four-year-old Young Ju and her parents emigrate from Korea to California by plane, the child, who knows that God is in the sky, concludes that America is heaven. "A step from heaven," her uncle corrects her after they arrive. However, life proves to be far from that for the family, which now includes a new baby. While told in the girl's voice as she matures from a preschooler into a capable young woman about to set off to college, the spare but lyrical text has an adult tone. The loosely structured plot is a series of vignettes that touch upon the difficulties immigrants face: adjusting to strange customs, learning a new language, dealing with government bureaucracy, adults working two jobs each, and children embarrassed by their parents' behavior. Woven throughout is the underlying theme of dealing with an alcoholic and abusive father.
I'm THE ONE THAT I WANT
by Margaret Cho
A collection of her life stories, about growing up Asian in America, about Korean family life, about her love of alcohol and retreat from alcoholism, about being told by studio executives that she should lose more weight to play herself, and try to be more Asian
by Don Lee
Short stories from the editor of Ploughshares. Many of the stories deal with prejudice against YELLOW people, and the insecurities felt by Asian Americans in a non-Asian culture. In "The Possible Husband" an young investment analyst makes loads of money and retires to pursue surfing and find the perfect wave. At the same time, he also wants to find the perfect wife to share his perfect wave. In the title story, "YELLOW", Danny Kim is tracked from childhood to adulthood, and he marries a woman for whom he has little passion, but he does feel safe with her.
THE BOOK OF LIGHTS
by CHAIM POTOK
A Novel based on Potok's real life experiences in Kyoto and Korea during the Korean War.
by Kien Nguyen
Kien Nguyen is Amer-Asian. His mother is Vietnamese, his father was a U.S. businessman, doing his business in South Vietnam. After the victory of North Vietnam over the South, Kien and his family were made to suffer under hellish circumstances under the Vietcong. Before the fall of Saigon, Kien was at the U.S. Embassy and watched as the chopper that might have saved him plunged to the ground in flames. This is his story of survival and a portrait of his snobbish, ice cold mother. (Kien is now a NYU educated dentist in NYC).
by Han Ong
This is the first novel by one of the youngest MacArthur Genius grant recipients, Han Ong. In this story, we meet our narrator, William Narcisco Paulinha, a Philippino-American. This is the story of his life. William has always felt himself to be a loser. Even though he typed perfectly at a speed of 120 wpm, he charged 75% of the market rate. He should have charged a premium, since he was worth it. He types manuscripts for lesser New York aspiring writers, or those with poor grammar and run-on sentences, like the Holocaust survivor for whom he takes dictation. But taking dictation and typing is probably better than his former job, that of a Port Authority Bus Terminal Men's Room hustler and sex worker. William is a good person. He doesn't correct his elderly client's grammar and he cares for an elderly Filipino neighbor with an injured hip. One evening after work, William meets Shem C., a peculiar Jew in a squalid, Times Square bar. Shem asks Paulinha to buy him a shot, calls him a Chink, and reports that he never heard of the Philippines. Shem C is recovering from being thrown out of his home by his nagging Jewish wife. She is the daughter of a famous Jewish novelist, Shem C is a social climbing, unsuccessful author of book reviews and celebrity profiles Shem C has been spurned by Manhattan's elite. Shem has a proposal for William. Shem wants to front him as a Chinese Feng Shui expert from Hong Kong, Fixer William Chao, living secretly in America under an assumed name, bilking Manhattan's elite, separating them from their extra money, fixing their unhappy wealth-filled lives. Shem is a Shem Sham Man. William joins him, and the reader is left with an enjoyable story and biting commentary on Manhattan life and elitism.
China Dog: And Other Tales from a Chinese Laundry
by Judy Fong Bates
July 2002, Counterpoint. Vivid, richly textured, wryly funny, a collection of linked stories about a host of Chinese immigrants from the turn of the century to the present. A chorus of immigrant voices populates Judy Fong Bates's graceful and poignant first collection of eight stories. Denizens of the ubiquitous small towns around Ontario, as far from their native land as can be imagined yet united by their proximity to the local Chinese laundry, her characters have in common their driving desire to assimilate, to fit in, to belong to a "majority" culture. But they are also people trapped by a certain cultural pride in confronting a world that may feign acceptance while at the same time reminding them that they are "other." In "The Gold Mountain Coat", two Chinese brothers toil in a restaurant and save their money to bring over the wife and child of one of the brothers. They are so thrifty, they share a single coat. Before the family arrives, they wish two buy new coats to present a better appearance. In Cold Food, a widow believes the illnesses come from eating cold food. She has been a wife and a mother, but is now aimless. Her Canadian-Chinese children don't need her. Then she bonds with another widow at a hospital. In "the Lucky Wedding" and "The Ghost Wife", Chinese mothers confront their Westernized daughters. In "Eat Bitter", a father loses his son, and buys a new boy from China to work in his laundry. The boy endures hardship, hoping to save money to return to China and open a teahouse.
Managing Masculinity in Asian America
by Professor David L Eng (Columbia and Rutgers)
Those without history are not fully human (Blade Runner)... The thesis that Professor Eng submits to the reader is true for Asian as well as Jewish men. That the media in America tends to castrate Asian (and for readers of this site, Jewish) men. The book is not an easy read, since it is somewhat academic, but it is worthwhile. He pairs an Asian American text with a psychoanalytic paradigm. Eng juxtaposes theoretical discussions of Freud, Lacan, and Fanon with critical readings of works by Frank Chin, Maxine Hong Kingston, Lonny Kaneko, David Henry Hwang, Louie Chu, David Wong Louie, Ang Lee, and R. Zamora Linmark. While situating these literary and cultural productions in relation to both psychoanalytic theory and historical events of particular significance for Asian Americans, Eng presents a sustained analysis of dreamwork and photography, the mirror stage and the primal scene, and fetishism and hysteria. For example, in his analysis of "M. Butterfly", in which a French diplomat has an 20 year long affair with an Asian man dressed as a woman, the diplomat creates a reverse Freudian fetishism. Rather than seeing a penis on a body where there is none (for example, thinking women's shoes to be a surrogate penis), the diplomat sees no penis where there actually is one. Eng asks whether being "Oriental" means to be not fully a man. Is the West masculine and the East feminine? Is the West filled with wealth and big guns, while the East is poor and weak? Is the East a female and the West a penile privileged man? Eng analyzes the effect of the absence of women and exclusion on the film, Eat A Bowl of Tea; and the idea of inclusion in the works of David Wong Louie. After demonstrating the many ways in which Asian American males are haunted and constrained by enduring domestic norms of sexuality and race, Eng analyzes the relationship between Asian Amer! ican male subjectivity and the larger transnational Asian diaspora.
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