There’s a story behind all that sweet & sour sauce

(Francine Orr/ Los Angeles Times)

Kenny Ng of Paul’s Cafe in LA’s Chinatown (Francine Orr/ Los Angeles Times)

LIVES_ofthefamilyOne of my favourite things about Denise Chong’s writing is her ability to slowly and steadily roll out a great story. She’s no amateur in the sport of writing and it continues to show in The Lives of the Family.

This is a non-fictional account of the lives of Chinese immigrants who settled in small town Canada during the early 1900’s. Most of these immigrants opened up restaurants and cleaners to make a living.

The Lives of the Family is also a tear-jerker as families are ripped apart again, again thanks to immigration, war and revolution. Once in Canada, the families face personal losses, financial burdens and of course, discrimination.

I was really impressed by how many stories Denise was able to squeeze into this relatively short book (222 pages!). And yet, I wasn’t left wanting more — she covers just enough details to leave you feeling like you personally know the families.

Sometimes non-fiction likes to skimp on details to make it easy digestible for all readers — but what I love about Denise’s writing is that she always does the people in her stories justice. She gives them the respect and attention they deserve and as readers, we understand their perspective so much more.

2013-11-23 19.50.38

I had no idea these boxes opened into plates!

I had no idea these boxes opened into plates!

lives_of_the_family_fortune_cookie

Photo credit: latimes.tumblr.com &marionhousebook.com.

See also: Writing Advise from Chinese Canadian Authors & The melting pot experience and White Teeth.

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