CHINA DOG by Judy Fong Bates

CHINA DOG

and Other Stories from a Chinese Laundry
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Having moved to Canada from China as a child, Bates conveys the immigrant experience in generally straightforward terms in this group of eight tales set in rural Ontario, first published in 1997 in Canada. “My Sister’s Love” reveals some of the complexity of that experience when a mother’s daughter arrives from a relatively good life in Hong Kong to the lesser life above a Chinese laundry, her stepfather and half-sister in tow. A beauty, she draws the eye of a prosperous, older Chinese businessman, but their relationship brings more scandal than succor. In “Eat Bitter,” immigrant ambivalence is the focus, as an unhappy apprentice dreams only of going home to China after five years in his uncle’s laundry. But when a letter arrives giving him good reason to escape the cold and racist cruelty, he realizes he’s not the only one who dreams of home. The title piece strays from this realistic treatment to consider a family curse, one that causes an old man to commit suicide and his daughter-in-law to seek out a medium in order to find a supernatural solution that will save her husband—but with catastrophic results.

Split mostly between laundry and restaurant settings, and attuned to the grittier side, Bates’s stories have limited range, but are most affecting in their search for the plain truths of Chinese immigrant life.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 1-58243-188-4
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Counterpoint
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2002