GRANDMOTHER HAD NO NAME by Alice P. Lin

GRANDMOTHER HAD NO NAME

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A string of pallid, prosaic vignettes that depicts several female generations of the author's family living in mainland China and the US and that strains to paint a broad picture of women in Asian culture as a whole. Lin retells episodes from her childhood in pre-revolutionary China, where she was raised by an extended family of women--including her grandmother (whose bound feet come to symbolize women's oppression in traditional Chinese society), her mother and several aunts (each of whom responds differently to conventional female roles), and a female cousin (whose adult life in modern-day China provides a counterpart to Lin's life in America). These early chapters afford Lin some pat, albeit personalized, reflections on the subservient role of women in Chinese culture. Far less engaging are chapters in which Lin describes her adolescence in Taiwan following the revolution, and her college years in the States. Here, Lin airs longstanding gripes against grade-school teachers who did not recognize her talents, lavishing near-godliness upon those who did. Lin's descriptions of women she met during several return trips to China during the past decade form the most promising section of the book. Still, what is missing there is some comparison to the prerevolutionary family structures she chronicles in her early chapters, or to Lin's own Chinese-American family. Lin then makes an unconvincing leap by extending the few points she makes about Chinese women to all Asian women--comparisons based on a trip to Japan and second-hand knowledge of Indian culture. Badly in need of a summary chapter, the book ends abruptly, finally seeming little more than a collection of politely told family reminiscences.

Pub Date: Dec. 15th, 1988
Publisher: China Books