A fictionalized memoir of a Hong Kong–born doctor who becomes a small-town surgeon in Arkansas, based on the author’s real life.
The kind, sociable Dr. Patrick Zito tells the story of his immigrant family’s assimilation in the bustling city of Baltimore. They eventually move to Miniville, Ark., which has a far more relaxed, laid-back way of life. The Zitos’ Chinese heritage, and the fact that they are the new family in town, garners them local attention and excitement. It turns out that another Chinese family already resides in Miniville, and the locals are sure that they will become fast friends. The Zitos are quickly accepted, and they easily adjust to small-town life; the family joins the local church, where Dr. Zito becomes a tenor in the choir, and he is inaugurated into the Lions Club. Shortly, Dr. Zito is asked to take over another doctor’s general practice in a nearby town, which leads to a partnership with a family-practice colleague to take over the emergency department of a hospital in the same town. In an essaylike style full of fond reminiscence, HanJi ably recounts Zito’s life over more than 30 years, including reflections on the friends his family makes, the colleagues they encounter and the troubles they see. He also shows their personal and professional achievements and the challenges they face—including a serious car accident—before Zito and his wife finally leave the quaint town to start the next chapter of their lives in retirement. Overall, HanJi’s debut successfully relays the feel and tone of life in a small town.
An effective account of the experience of country living as seen through the eyes of a Chinese immigrant.