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Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir [Kindle Edition]

Eddie Huang
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (253 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $10.35
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

NOW AN ORIGINAL SERIES ON ABC • “Just may be the best new comedy of [the year] . . . based on restaurateur Eddie Huang’s memoir of the same name . . . [a] classic fresh-out-of-water comedy.”—People
“Bawdy and frequently hilarious . . . a surprisingly sophisticated memoir about race and assimilation in America . . . as much James Baldwin and Jay-Z as Amy Tan . . . rowdy [and] vital . . . It’s a book about fitting in by not fitting in at all.”—Dwight Garner, The New York Times
Assimilating ain’t easy. Eddie Huang was raised by a wild family of FOB (“fresh off the boat”) immigrants—his father a cocksure restaurateur with a dark past back in Taiwan, his mother a fierce protector and constant threat. Young Eddie tried his hand at everything mainstream America threw his way, from white Jesus to macaroni and cheese, but finally found his home as leader of a rainbow coalition of lost boys up to no good: skate punks, dealers, hip-hop junkies, and sneaker freaks. This is the story of a Chinese-American kid in a could-be-anywhere cul-de-sac blazing his way through America’s deviant subcultures, trying to find himself, ten thousand miles from his legacy and anchored only by his conflicted love for his family and his passion for food. Funny, moving, and stylistically inventive, Fresh Off the Boat is more than a radical reimagining of the immigrant memoir—it’s the exhilarating story of every American outsider who finds his destiny in the margins.
Praise for Fresh Off the Boat
“Brash and funny . . . outrageous, courageous, moving, ironic and true.”New York Times Book Review
“Mercilessly funny and provocative, Fresh Off the Boat is also a serious piece of work. Eddie Huang is hunting nothing less than Big Game here. He does everything with style.”—Anthony Bourdain
“Uproariously funny . . . emotionally honest.”Chicago Tribune
“Huang is a fearless raconteur. [His] writing is at once hilarious and provocative; his incisive wit pulls through like a perfect plate of dan dan noodles.”Interview
“Although writing a memoir is an audacious act for a thirty-year-old, it is not nearly as audacious as some of the things Huang did and survived even earlier. . . . Whatever he ends up doing, you can be sure it won’t look or sound like anything that’s come before. A single, kinetic passage from Fresh Off the Boat . . . is all you need to get that straight.”—Bookforum

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews Review

Q&A with Eddie Huang

Eddie Huang and parents

Q. You're a chef, but your restaurant doesn't show up in this book until pretty late. If you're not writing about your restaurant--the fabulous Baohaus in New York--then what are you writing about?

A. Food is at the core of the book, but I examine it beyond the plate, almost as a symbol. There's only one recipe in this book and there are no measurements. I want people to understand the power that food has as a gateway drug into culture and history, but, first and foremost, my book tells a story about growing up Taiwanese-Chinese in America. It's a story about unpacking your identity, purging yourself of the things your environment has imposed upon your consciousness, and trying to set yourself free. I refused the American Experience I was sold, remixed it for myself, chopped it up, and sold it back.

Q. One of the powerful aspects of the book is the language you use, which feels completely original. Where does your voice come from?

A. Language is constantly changing and the biggest disservice you can do to yourself and your reader is to write how you think you're "supposed to" write. My parents didn't really speak English at home, so I had to develop my English voice independently and mostly through pop culture--I grew up speaking Chinese, listening to hip hop, and watching cable television. Learning to trust my own voice was probably the most important thing I ever did. When I was in college, Richard Ford visited during a speaking series and criticized Ha Jin, who had just won the National Book Award, for writing in English because it wasn't his native tongue, implying that Ha Jin should stick to Chinese. I was just a half-assed student at the time, but I stood up and argued with Ford from my seat till they made me sit down. My mother speaks broken English but even with her comic disregard for subject-verb agreement, she throws mad knowledge darts. You should never worry about what others think about the language you use, as long as it's truly your own.

Eddie Huang and brothers

Q. What do you want readers to take away from Fresh Off the Boat?

A. The simple surface reading of this book is to be yourself by any means possible. That's the basic theme, but I want people to see how implementing a simple concept like that takes a struggle between you and your country, you and your city, you and your reference group, you and your family, you and your race, you and the sub cultures you subscribe to, and on and on. It's about the constant battle between that little voice inside you and the people you love, the legacy you carry, the cultures that make you curious, the country that tells you who you're supposed to be. It's about the complexity of being an individual--about finding love in family, in friends, in food, in music and culture, and a million other surprising places, and figuring out how to bring all that together inside of you. It's about learning to be fearless, but it's also about the cost of those lessons and the literal and psychic violence you encounter when you try to break free.

There are tons of books about the struggle to be an individual, but with each one we reach more and more people who were never spoken to. I was always a weirdo growing up, but I believed that there were weirdos like me, and my writing this book is like Professor X putting on cerebro to find the other mutants.

From Booklist

Born in the U.S. to Taiwanese immigrant parents, Huang refuses to be a “lapdog under a bamboo ceiling,” and his colloquial, furious memoir is as open about his struggling, screaming, sometimes abusive parents as it is about the prejudice he encounters growing up in Orlando and then in New York, where to this day “someone tells me to go back to China at least three times a year.” He hates that everything he does is a statement about his people and where they are from, even as he refuses to be reformed, assimilated, apologetic. Always refusing to fit in, he wants to hurt people like they hurt him, and he succeeds. Now he runs a big New York City gourmet restaurant and a food store, and, throughout the book, food is front and center, including his mother’s recipe for the best beef noodle soup. Readers will leave hungry, and many immigrants will recognize the refusal to go with the model minority myth. --Hazel Rochman

Product Details

  • File Size: 2906 KB
  • Print Length: 290 pages
  • Publisher: Spiegel & Grau (January 29, 2013)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00957T3UC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,179 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
66 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Profane, profound, profusely entertaining. February 8, 2013
"This book isn't for everyone. I thought it wasn't for me when I first started reading it.

Eddie Huang is the owner of Baohaus, a NYC eatery that is one of the hottest places in town. This is his autobiography, the story of his evolution from a confused kids who was fresh off the boat to an entrepreneur and a food celebrity. I really like thisi book because his life experience runs parallel to mine in many ways.

There are difference though, and even though Eddie speaks from a place that is near and dear to my heart, I am from an era that is far removed from Eddie Huang's generation. Hip-hop isn't my thing and I just don't get it. BUT, there are enough commonalities so that I do get where he is coming from. We both were born in Taiwan, we both came to America as young children. We both found our way through the maze that is America. Eddie did it about twenty years after I did, and he did it with far more courage. I went through the Caucasian society by keeping my head down and working at getting better and smarter their way. Eddie did it by figuring out his way and then having the courage and discipline to stay with it. I seethed inwardly at the racial stereotyping and the inequalities inherent in America, Eddie fought those things and more. Literally.

First of all, being the only Chinese kid in the neighborhood is not a good deal. The stereotypes run rampant and people get really ticked if you don't behave the way they want you to behave. Both of us have been through all that and Eddie's stories, while outrageous sounding, smack of the truth. He is as real as it gets, even more real than anyone wants.

The other part of the growing up Chinese/Taiwanese in America is the relationships we have with our families, particularly our parents.
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52 of 60 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bold, irritating, at times illuminating and opaque March 29, 2013
This was, when I finished it, clearly a 2-star book. That was 2 weeks ago. Then I had to go back to it a few times and reread some parts over again. Now as I write this review I've got to give it 3 stars just for the amount that it questioned my own assumptions, and I'm bordering on 4 stars for it's boldness and originality.

Let's get it out of the way first - Huang uses numerous subculture references - basketball, comic books, rap, fashion - to the point where you might have a hard time understanding what is going on. That's the point: he's not going to spell it out for you, he's going to talk to you like you already know what's going on. And if you don't know already, he's not going to take the time to explain it to you. You catch up or get lost in the dust.

And there are long passages about his "rough times" getting into fights with frat boys, petty larceny, and selling weed. His wild days don't seem as wild to me as they do to him.

But some of the things he writes about - growing up with an Asian face in America, using food to tell a story, why "fusion" food is almost always dangerous and disingenuous, trying to find out who you are when everyone else is forcing you into an answer you might not like - are really powerful and interesting. Few people are writing about some of this stuff, and it's impossible to ignore him or write this book off.

I may not have understood everything in this book, but I got the sentiment, and I think we'll be hearing about this book and Eddie Huang for years to come.
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49 of 57 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir December 5, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Being from the northern plains (fly-over country to those from the coasts), I was not aware of Eddie Huang or his Baohous restaurant prior to reading his memoir. Now I wish I lived closer to New York City so that I could taste a sample of his signature bao. I did know what they were (Taiwanese/Chinese meat in a bun) before reading the book, and his sound scrumptious.

Eddie Huang is the son of Taiwanese immigrants who struggled as many do to acclimatize and succeed in the United States. His father eventually put together enough capital to open and steakhouse and the family (parents and three sons) moved rapidly from poverty to wealth in Orlando, Florida. In the book Eddie describes the difficulties he had trying to find a way to fit in - a Chinese boy with a love of hip-hop and Taiwanese food. Eddie spent his teen years trying to live the gangsta lifestyle which eventually got him into trouble with the law. His parents sent him back to Taiwan to try to get his act together.

Eddie Huang is a very smart guy - both street smart and book smart. He learned from his past, went on to college and then to law school, making his father very proud by passing the bar exam on the first try. All set for life, escept that Eddie hated the legal life. He wanted to open a restaurant that would fill both a hip-hop need and a desire for authentic Taiwanese food. So with encouragement from such Food Network notables as Guy Fieri ("Diners, Drive-ins and Dives")and Anthoy Bourdain ("No Reservations")who he met through a cooking contest, Eddie moved ahead with his passion. It was an instant success and seems to be going well. He also writes a food blog and has several videos on his website that document much of what he has written in the book.

I enjoyed the book immensely.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Fresh off the %#@! Boat
Pros: Eddie is amazing, and he HAS made it!
Who he is and what he's been through and what he made of it will never fit in a sitcom; so if you want all the gritty details, read... Read more
Published 5 hours ago by Firemom
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant young man
interesting and personal memoir. This is a brilliant and accomplished man. It was amazing to follow his family's rise, and his personal development. Read more
Published 14 hours ago by Al
4.0 out of 5 stars No Mayflower passengers here
Bought this because of the TV show. This is definitely not the same. Eddie writes in rap or Eubonix or some language that is foreign to me. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Eric Naumann
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read even if you ain't Asian!
Really funny. For a glimpse into how Asians feel about stuff, this is the book. Couldn't put it down.
Published 1 day ago by Gene R. Brumbach
3.0 out of 5 stars TV series piqued interest in the book. I am ...
TV series piqued interest in the book. I am am older chinese-american generation, but could somewhat relate, tho' not entirely.
Published 2 days ago by Irena F. Lum
5.0 out of 5 stars Yellow is the new black
For anyone hoping for the lighthearted source of the recent TV series, look elsewhere. Eddie Huang's "Fresh off the Boat" is the often harrowing story of a young Taiwanese... Read more
Published 3 days ago by Jean E. Pouliot
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but too hip
Good rendition of painfulness of bullying based on race. Often too trendy and hip in relations with other and confusing to those of us who are less hip.
Published 6 days ago by Nancy Shinno
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but deeper and darker than the television series on which it's...
I really liked this book. It's different than the television show: deeper and a lot more meaningful content about growing up in an Asian family in America. Read more
Published 7 days ago by S. Kong
3.0 out of 5 stars mostly I was annoyed by the author as a child and kind of ...
This isn't the type of thing I usually read. It was ok, kind of interesting, mostly I was annoyed by the author as a child and kind of wanted to smack him. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Molly M. Wolf
5.0 out of 5 stars Bam
Eddie poppin' off the page. I hope they get some of the darker stuff into the sitcom. Keep it a tiny bit real.
Published 8 days ago by buyer
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