Eating Chinese Food Naked: A Novel (Paperback)
by Mei Ng (Author)
"When Ruby was a kid, around the time when other little girls were being dandled on their daddy's knee... and thinking about marrying him when they grew up, she was dreaming about marrying her mother and taking her away."
Right off the bat Mei Ng's novel promises to be different from the run-of-the-mill mother-daughter saga so beloved of young, female first novelists of every ethnic persuasion. Ruby Lee, the heroine of Eating Chinese Food Naked, has just graduated from college and come back home to live with her parents over the family's laundry business. Her parents, Bell and Franklin, are hardly a match made in heaven, and for all of her life Ruby has been her mother's defender--a role she can't give up even as she longs to be free of it. During the course of her summer at home, Ruby must navigate the choppy waters of familial relations--her mother and father's estrangement, her irresponsible older brother's volatile relationship with everyone, her sister's recent marriage to a non-Chinese--as well as sort out her own feelings about Nick, a young man whom she loves but cannot seem to remain faithful to. Ng's melancholy novel perfectly captures her heroine's dislocation both within her family and within herself, at the same time offering readers a glimpse of the urban Chinese American experience across two generations.
From Library Journal
In this contemporary novel, readers find Columbia University graduate Ruby Lee returning home to Queens, New York, to stay temporarily with her parents. Living in the four rooms behind Lee's Hand Laundry, which is owned and operated by her aging father, Ruby finds herself unable to escape issues past, present, and future as she battles with her identity as a Chinese American woman, a daughter, a sister, a friend, and a lover. Realistically portrayed, each possessing her or his own strengths, weaknesses, and individual personalities, Ruby and her family all evolve over the course of this first novel, much to the satisfaction of the reader. With strong female protagonists inhabiting worlds that are both Chinese and American, Ng's writing can be likened to that of Amy Tan and Gish Gen.
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Scribner; 1st Washington Square Press Trade Pbk. Ed edition (November 1, 1998)
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