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Flower Drum Song

11 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1559362221
ISBN-10: 1559362227
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Flower Drum Song shines in this jubilant, top-to-bottom revision. David Henry Hwang’s wised-up book adds more humor and political savvy and fits perfectly into Robert Longbottom’s seductive and opulent musical.”- David Cote, Time Out New York

“Part fashion show, part nightclub act, part hymn to Asian American diversity, Flower Drum Song’s intelligence may be rooted in Asian American cultural contradictions, but its heart belongs to Broadway.” –John Lahr, New Yorker

“The dramatist and his director-choreographer, Robert Longbottom, have worked brilliantly…to create a new Broadway show of high and low seriousness, which was Rodger and Hammerstein’s intention in the first place.” –John Heilpern, New York Observer

“David Henry Hwang and Robert Longbottom have retained the show’s irresistible sweetness and added more of the unabashed grandeur that distinguishes Rodgers and Hammerstein’s best-loved material.” –Elysa Gardner, USA Today

"A bold theatrical operation, an artistic success, revealing a revitalized score and a dramatic complexion that’s far richer than the original."—Variety

About the Author

David Henry Hwang is the author of the Tony Award-winning M. Butterfly, Yellow Face (OBIE Award, 2008 Pulitzer Prize finalist), Golden Child (1997 OBIE Award), FOB (1981 OBIE Award), Family Devotions (Drama Desk nomination), and the books for musicals Aida ( co-author), Flower Drum Song (2002 Broadway revival), and Tarzan, among other works. David Henry Hwang graduated from Stanford University, attended the Yale School of Drama, and holds honorary degrees from Columbia College in Chicago and The American Conservatory Theatre. He lives in New York City with his wife, actress Kathryn Layng, and their children, Noah David and Eva Veanne.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 120 pages
  • Publisher: Theatre Communications Group (May 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559362227
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559362221
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.3 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #724,674 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Mei-Ling on November 3, 1999
Format: Hardcover
My mother has always told me of a beautiful Rogers & Hammerstein musical called "Flower Drum Song". I bought the CD and found it simply splendid. However, my appreciation of the musical has only been enhanced by reading the novel it was based on by the author CY Lee. The story follows the intrigues of a Chinese emigrant family living in San Fransisco. It is romantic, in parts funny and a pleasure to read. I thoroughly recommend it.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Eunice on January 5, 2003
Format: Paperback
I read this book many years ago and enjoyed so much that I have read everything I could find by Mr. Lee, and since then other Chinese American authors.
It is a shame that for so many years the book was rejected by young Asian Americans as being "too white face" or "Uncle Tom" as it is not so at all. C.Y. Lee was a Chinese immigrant and wrote of the society as he saw it at that time, which is not the way the younger generation, who did not live through the immigrant experience, want to see it. This is not unusual, many well schooled, well fed sucessful Americans do not want to know that their grandparents arrived in steerage with their belongings tied up in kit bag, unable to speak the language, and worked 18 hours a day in menial jobs so that their children could get ahead.
This is a poignant story of Chinese immigrant families in Southern California during the days of the Chinese Exclusion Act, and the difficulty the young American-raised men had in finding a wife. They were not allowed to bring women in from China, and they were not permitted to marry non Asians. Because of the Communist takeover, many Chinese who had dreamed of returning home to China when they retired after working all their lives were unable to do so. The situtation created an artifically stressed society. The book has tragedy and sadness, as well as hope and joy.
My only criticism of the novel, and a mild one at that, is that it frequently reads like a play script, especially in the last chapter, where there is a lot of dialogue, followed by descriptions of the action which read like stage directions. It is possible that the novel was orignally intended to be a play.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By "Weighting" no more! on August 27, 2002
Format: Paperback
Originally published in 1957, this poignant and charming novel tells of a young man's struggle to fit in. Love, family and all the ups and downs that go with them are told with bittersweet humor. Its re-release is a wonderful companion to David Henry Hwang's new theatrical book which revives the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical on Broadway this year. Hurrah!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Peter Gong on January 4, 2003
Format: Paperback
As a child, I saw the film "Flower Drum Song" and fell in love with the film. Though at the time, it was considered a no-no amongst the Chinese community. But none of those who scorn the film had even read either the book or seen the film. It was a beautiful made film that featured Asian actors who sing, dance, performed to a melodic score by one of the most creative song writing team. Therefore, I am so glad that this book is finally come to light and to be re-embraced into literary culture. Perhaps it will hopefully quail those critics who are as narrow-minded as those who thought we are just busboys and Charlie Chans. Be enlightened, and read this great piece of story-telling of a familial saga that we can all relate--regardless if we are Chinese or not. Enjoy, read and be enchanted. As well check out the film--it might change one's opinion.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Sharon E. Cathcart VINE VOICE on December 2, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having been a long-time fan of the Rogers & Hammerstein musical based on this novel, I was surprised to learn of the book's existence. For some reason, when great Asian authors and literature are discussed, C.Y. Lee's "Flower Drum Song" is not part of the equation.

This is a pity, really. Lee takes an honest look at Chinese-American cultural mores in San Francisco's Chinatown (where he lived at one point), including the problems caused by immigration quotas and anti-miscegenation laws. He writes frankly, for example, about Wang Ta (the eldest son in the story) consorting with prostitutes, thus breaking a barrier I have never been able to understand -- the idea that Asian men are somehow asexual.

At the time Lee's novel takes place, immigration quotas had resulted in there being six Chinese men for every woman. Anti-miscegenation laws prevented those men from marrying outside of their ethnicity. Thus, when Lee writes about Linda Tung (this character became Linda Low in the musical) and her "brothers" competing for her attention and her playing them against each other to obtain gifts, he is talking about a cultural reality. Women could be, and were, quite particular.

The book also describes the immigrant experience in detail. Anthropologists know that immigrants cling to their old culture while the first generation born into the new culture assimilates entirely and is embarrassed at their elders. It is not until yet another generation is born that the cultures meld. The clashes between Old Master Wang Chi-yang and Young Masters Wang Ta and Wang San are frequent, and serve as splendid demonstrations of the situation.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it highly.
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