HUNGER by Lan Samantha Chang


A Novella and Stories
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A wonderfully written debut collection focusing on Chinese immigrants to America and the troubled lives of their children. Chang concentrates on depicting—with considerable insight and originality—the fault lines of assimilation in American society. Her tales nicely capture the sometimes blunt, often painful, and only rarely hopeful negotiations conducted between parents and children, and between immigrants and natives, above this shifting ground. The powerful title novella sounds notes repeated in many of the stories: a long-suppressed family secret slowly corrodes a marriage, hindering the ability of parents to communicate with their children, and slowly, subtly confounding and wounding the children. The wives in many of these pieces, coming from a traditional culture, are deferential to their husbands, a form of submission that ends for many in bitter resentment. The husbands are stern, remote, and tend to die early, having submerged their own sorrows in a lifelong reticence. The American-born daughters of theme unions (sons do not figure in the stories) are uncomfortably caught between two cultures, often angry or resentful, and sometimes rebellious. The rich emotional resonance of these tales is somewhat diminished when Chang departs her American settings for China. This does not, however, much affect the pleasures available from her somber, vivid, deeply original vision of Asian-American life. The debut of a writer possessing a distinctive, fresh imagination and voice. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-393-04664-8
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1998


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