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China Dolls: A Novel Paperback – February 5, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1st edition (February 5, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312378017
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312378011
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,679,781 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Three Chinese-American 20-somethings pursue careers and Mr. Right in ultracompetitive New York City in Yu and Kan's fizzy debut. Alex, Lin and M.J. have been friends since childhood, and, as the novel opens, none is married, and each is feeling pressure from her immigrant family to move to the next stage in life. The women's desires, predictably, differ from their parents'. M.J., the trio's standout, dreams of being an on-air sports broadcaster (like author Yu), but finds her efforts to join the all-white-male club dispiriting. Alex, a lawyer (like author Kan), and Lin, a stockbroker, are financially successful, but are sick of being treated in their male-dominated fields as Asian arm candy. These shared struggles make the women's battles understandable to each other, but the authors, while providing a nifty insider's guide to Chinese shopping and restaurants, do little more than scratch the psychological surface of their characters. There's fun to be had, however, gallivanting from booze-drenched corporate parties to Chinatown fortune-tellers. (Feb)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Yu and Kan's novel centers around three young Chinese American women looking for love and career success in New York City. M. J. is a successful sportswriter who dreams of becoming an on-air reporter, but fears her gender is an obstacle. Despite some setbacks, her star is rising, and when she reconnects with her high-school boyfriend, she thinks everything might finally be falling into place, until she discovers he hasn't changed as much as she'd hoped. Alex, a lawyer, is grappling with the absence of a love life and trying to work through her feelings for her unrequited college love. A stockbroker who plays to win, Lin finds herself falling under the spell of a charming new recruit at work and jeopardizing her job to be with him. Though readers may see the characters' paths to love long before they do, Yu and Kan's heroines are eminently likable, and their adventures in love and on the job do ring true. Kristine Huntley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Chica Lit reader on November 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I just read the new novel China Dolls . . . .
On the surface, I really liked it. Well written, very funny, Fast fun read. Upon further reflection, I found it to be one of the most racially stereotyped and demeaning books I have read of late.
Yu and Kan do the exact opposite of what Alisa does in her books. Alisa presents a broad spectrum of different types of Latino people, with positive and negative qualities. With regards to the men in Dirty Girls, we have a Cuban Jew wife beater, a Mexican philanderer, a Puerto Rican nice guy, an idiot white guy, and an Aztec with a superiority complex. I am not suggesting that Yu and Kan represent other Asian groups, but all of their Asian American male characters are shown as weak, dorky, effeminate, or controlling.
The characters call the Asian men names like "Asian Warrior Man." p 136
p 129 "Haven't you ever gone out with an Asian guy before? "Oh yeah, in college, Mike Tang. He was a nice guy. He told me he loved me five minutes after we sat down for dinner."
All the white guys are described as tan, gorgeous perfect bodies. When any of them make rude degrading comments, their actions are excused but when the Asian male characters say something offensive, they are lambasted for being "traditional male chauvinist pigs."
I just find it so sad that it is bad enough that white media desexualizes Asian American men, but that Asian female writers do it as well. In the history of primetime television, there has only been one Asian man that has kissed a woman (Jin and Sun from Lost) That was the main reason that I created the Tim Lee character in my book was to show a gorgeous Asian man that all the girls are in love with.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Clear View on January 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover
"China Dolls" is racist and sexist. The vast majority of male characters of all ethnicities are portrayed as chauvinist cavemen. This is especially true of all of the Asian American characters.

The female protagonists accept the glaring faults of the white men they encounter, such as Josh's arrogance and obvious Asian fetish, and Drew's blatant racism and sexism. The Asian male characters are harshly criticized and are not allowed second chances.

The female characters lament how being Asian American makes them feel marginalized in their careers and unhappy with their bodies. I don't understand how I am supposed to feel any sympathy for them since they themselves have such low regard for Asian men.

Toward the end of the novel, Lin realizes that she has unfairly judged her Asian ex-boyfriend Stephen. But this leads nowhere, and I get the impression that she would rather just wait for a nonracist white man.

I also found it interesting that the Asian mothers in the book are by far more domineering and controlling than the Asian fathers, which goes against the stereotype that Asian men are too controlling to be good romantic partners.

I actually emailed the authors and they responded that the "book is more about the women than the men." Apparently, they think that they are not responsible for their minor characters. I think that the authors just are not good writers and are simply benefiting from the public's interest in Asian women's stories.

I would love to say that this novel represents a very biased Asian American female perspective, but unfortunately, I suspect that many Asian American women feel exactly the same way as the authors.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By R. Yang on May 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
While I found that this book was a decent read in one afternoon, it's particularly disturbing for the authors to try to break stereotypes of Asian women by unnecessarily reinforcing stereotypes of Asian men.

Halfway through the book, all the Asian men in the book seem to exploited by turning them into stereotypical caricatures and using them as a catalyst to push the development of the female protagonists. In order to break from stereotypes as young Asian women, they projected an image of the stereotypical Asian male and culture.

It's truly tragic when in order for Asian women to move up in society, they have to push Asian men down.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Haugh TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This novel attracted my attention for a number of reasons. First, it is a novel about young, Asian-American women trying to be successful in challenging careers in New York City. (In this case, sports reporter, attorney and stockbroker.) My wife is a young, Asian-American woman trying to build a successful career as an accountant in New York City. In a closely related second, this novel shows relationships between these Asian-American women and non-Asian men which also strikes close to home for me. Finally, China Dolls is a first novel and I always make an effort to read first novels that seem interesting in a long-standing attempt to support new writers.

So, given all that, how did I like this novel? To be frank, I have to say it is only "so-so."

But I should be fair. Even with my connections to the themes of this novel, perhaps I am not the right audience and my judgement is therefore somewhat suspect. Perhaps it would resonate more with women and, more precisely, Asian-American women. Still, whatever its audience, there are some weaknesses here.

Most importantly, it is not particularly well written. The prose is pretty flat and cliche-ridden. There are no real surprises to the plot and the concept of fate that often resonates in novels by Asian writers is watered down to the point of tastelessness. I also felt their portrayal of many of the Asian characters (mothers, fathers, grandparents) was surprisingly stereotypical. I am basing this on my encounters with my wife's family which made these characters ring untrue for me.

The three lead characters did offer some depth and insight, most likely because they are based on the experience of our two authors (a sports reporter and an attorney) but it wasn't enough to really carry me through the novel. What this bodes for their next novel (which the dust jacket says they are "hard at work on"), I don't know.
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