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Larry's Kidney: Being the True Story of How I Found Myself in China with My Black Sheep Cousin and His Mail-Order Bride, Skirting the Law to Get Him a Transplant--and Save His Life [Kindle Edition]

Daniel Asa Rose
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (114 customer reviews)

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Book Description

“One of the funniest, most touching and bizarre nonfiction books I’ve read.”
Boston Globe


Larry’s Kidney is Daniel Asa Rose’s wild-and-crazy memoir about his trip to Beijing, China, to help his black-sheep cousin Larry receive an illegal kidney transplant, collect a mail-order bride, and stop a hit-man from killing their uncle. An O. Henry Prize winner,  a two-time recipient of PEN Fiction Awards, and a 2006 National Endowment for the Arts Literary Fellow, Rose has written “a surprisingly fun, and moving, book with resonance” (Chicago Tribune).

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

“Along the way to finding a mail-order bride, falling in love with an alien country and saving Larry’s life, the duo experience extreme culture shock, flirt with espionage and discover unimaginable qualities in each other. Rose’s rhythms and comic timing, particularly in dialog with his cousin, will keep readers laughing throughout, even when they’re crying, frustrated or perplexed at the warts-and-all characters that emerge (Larry himself is particularly unpolished, gaining in empathy what he loses in likability). While they dance around the morality of their errand, the crux of the travelogue is two old friends learning to reconcile for a life-saving adventure in a foreign world. A satisfying, hysterical page-turner, this will captivate fans of travel writing and family narratives, with special interest for anyone who’s helped a love one through serious illness.”
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)

From Library Journal

“A side-splitting tour de force that whisks readers off to China on a quest to get a transplant for the author’s cousin Larry . . . Larry’s challenging journey to China will resonate with readers who are rightfully concerned about the plight of American patients who may be relegated for years to an organ transplant waiting list.”
— Library Journal

Product Details

  • File Size: 345 KB
  • Print Length: 322 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0061708712
  • Publisher: HarperCollins e-books (May 12, 2009)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0028MVGXI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #304,055 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
39 of 48 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Rose certainly has some amusing moments here, and his writing is zesty enough to create some entertaining interludes. There are a few touching moments, some nice local flavor, and some humorous bits of cross-cultural confusion.

And this is one huge, massive BUT.

The central idea of Larry's Kidney is that as long as it's a family member you're saving, it doesn't matter how many other innocent people might suffer and die so that your precious family member can survive. He points out that it's illegal to do what they're doing, but as the title says, in his mind they're "skirting" the law. The tangentially mentioned truth at the heart of this book is that neither Rose nor his (unlikeably scheming) cousin Larry could give a damn if the kidney they're lusting after comes from a political prisoner. Rose even mentions the possibility and then quickly waves it off with the idea that, "What can you do? Larry is family. The prisoners aren't my concern, as they're not my family. Only their kidneys matter."

This is absolutely despicable when held up to the light of day.
So the families of a Chinese political prisoner don't matter, but your rather criminal cousin does, Mr. Rose? That is completely inhuman, especially in light of the constant Jewishness tossed around in this book. Almost every page has some Jewish reference or term. Fine. But isn't a huge part of the Jewish experience political persecution through the ages? Weren't Jews persecuted and thrown out of one country after another throughout history? And above all, did the Holocaust not teach us all the lesson that killing people simply because of their religious beliefs is inhuman?
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Got on my nerves August 20, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Perhaps it is the fact I have worked in health care for almost 20 years, and in that time I have seen what kidney disease can do. Perhaps it is the fact I didn't find Cousin Larry very likable. I don't know what first stuck in my craw, but I did not like Larry's Kidney: Being the True Story of How I Found Myself in China with My Black Sheep Cousin and His Mail-Order Bride, Skirting the Law to Get Him a Transplant--and Save His Life even a little bit. This is not a light hearted romp throughout China full of cultural misunderstandings and slapstick brushed with the law. It was sad to see author Daniel Asa Rose get more and more enmeshed in the schemes of a barely likeable cousin (having a life threatening illness usually does not improve a person's personality of change their character). Within a few chapters I was weary of Cousin Larry and had a hard time enduring to the end.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Offensive, Disgusting May 24, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
May I say that if you have any morals at all you will not buy this book...and I thank God I got it for free and did not line Mr. Rose`s pocket with my hard earned book-buying money.

The writing is poor, the supposed "humor" isn't funny, the over use of Larry's speech impediment was extremely annoying, the non-stop use of dialect writing was in very bad taste...everything is just over done and I have to wonder how this book every got the green light.

If I could find some brain Brillo being sold by Amazon I would have it sent to me over night so I could get the remnants of this book out of my head. This was the most painful book I have ever read (attempted to read). I'm ashamed to say that I would rather donate my kidney to Larry than finish this highly disturbing look at kidney transplants and the high handed ethics of a certain type of Ugly American.

While I did get this through Vine, my reasons for choosing this particular book are not the same as most people here who had read this because they had traveled to China. I have a friend on the 74,000 person waiting list for a kidney and has been on this list for many years; I had hoped to find some answers in this little book of horrors, some humor, maybe some empathy and a side trip for Larry to hook up. Sadly I was hood-winked.

Imagine my horror while reading this unethical never ending, torturous book that I had recommended that they stock this in the dialysis department's library? I hope to God they will forgive me.
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16 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Delightful Armchair Adventure April 26, 2009
I was hooked with the first line, 'Huwwo?' Larry's Kidney, by Daniel Asa Rose, is indeed an 'adventure of a lifetime (really) -- a madcap odyssey of the heart (and kidney) in the most exotic country on earth,' as the back cover proclaims.

Larry is something else. Rose shows him as funny, exasperating, morose, kind hearted, unyielding, dictatorial, and expansive by turns, a moody man who is nonetheless charming and hard not to like. I believe that Rose shows Larry as he sees him, but he makes it clear in the book that he has a vivid imagination, so I'm not entirely sure Larry is exactly the man we're shown. Still, I think Larry would be someone interesting to meet, though I'd make sure not to cross him.

I loved the way Rose shows the people of China, very much as I might expect to see them myself -- quite confusing at first, then not as a people (plural), but as individual people, who still might be confusing due to language and cultural differences, yet people with whom it's possible to interact. I felt I was there with them as I read. (The fact that I was playing Chinese pop music as I read probably helped this a little.) And, though I don't go looking for it intentionally in what I read, I'm always delighted to see an example of my world vision* in reality, in the world today. For all his and Larry's cavalier naivety, before he returned home he saw (was made to see) some of the harsher realities and he still chose to remember the kindnesses bestowed upon him and Larry, to believe goodness was indeed goodness. Nobody ends up being a bad guy here. It's just that everyone sees things differently.

Rose's style reads/sounds as if he's there telling the story in person.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars I'd forgotten how horrible it was and felt the need to post on ...
So I live in South Korea. I was cleaning out my apartment because I'm moving in with my GF, and I find a local expat magazine that I kept two copies of. Read more
Published 11 days ago by Jason Lindley
1.0 out of 5 stars annoying, unfunny waste of paper and the reader's time
Racist, misogynistic, annoying, unfunny waste of paper and the reader's time. What a terrible person the author is.
Published 1 month ago by A reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Most enjoyable - very well written
Published 1 month ago by Lilian Roessler
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read, witty
Good easy read, with wit and wry family humor. Made for good book group discussion. Topics included travel for medical procedures and taking advantage of another person's... Read more
Published 6 months ago by SDHaskell
1.0 out of 5 stars A weird book
The only saving grace was that it was a true story. The author is full of himself.
I don't recommend.
Published 6 months ago by Gabriella
3.0 out of 5 stars Quirky, but too Outlandish
I borrowed this book from a friend who bought it after hearing about the author on NPR. It's definitely a crazy story and a wild ride, but I was left feeling like much of it had to... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Karen Lea Hansen
4.0 out of 5 stars Who knew a kidney transplant could be this fun?
This is an irreverent look at leaping over the "boundaries" of what is acceptable and taking a gamble on life. Mr. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Johanna C. Wood
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow! A must read!!!
Daniel has beautifully captured an adventure in time - this memoir is a fantastic look at the desperate measures people with failed organs in America have to take to stay alive. Read more
Published on June 4, 2012 by Sally Richards
5.0 out of 5 stars Very funny
Yes this is not a politically correct book and there is no doubt much to take offence to. If you are that sort of person then don't read it. Read more
Published on May 25, 2012 by A. Reid
This is a book well-worth your time. It is smart, unlikely, and affecting. I loved it for it's peculiar honesty, and it is genuinely hilarious.
Published on January 18, 2012 by ADK BOB
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More About the Author

UPDATE! "LARRY'S KIDNEY" has been listed as one of the TOP BOOKS OF THE YEAR by Publishers Weekly, and has been optioned to be a major motion picture. Since the summer, Daniel has appeared on NPR, CNN, The New York Times Op Ed Page, and over 35 radio programs. In addition, he has read from the book in Albuquerque, Boston, New York, Detroit, Denver, San Diego, San Francisco, Houston, Miami, Tampa, Portland (Oregon), Saint Louis, and Providence. Thanks to all who turned out!


DANIEL ASA ROSE is the author, most recently, of the world's first (dark) comedy about medical tourism. "LARRY'S KIDNEY: Being the True Story of How I Found Myself in China With my Black Sheep Cousin and his Mail-Order Bride, Skirting the Law to Get Him a Transplant ... and Save His Life" (Morrow, ISBN 978-0061708701) is being called "a satisfying, hysterical page-turner that will captivate fans of travel writing and family narratives, with special interest for anyone who's helped a love one through serious illness" (Publishers Weekly starred review); "a side-splitting tour de force that will resonate with readers concerned about the plight of American patients who may be relegated for years to an organ transplant waiting list" (Library Journal); "skillful, funny, fascinating" (The New York Observer); and "one of the funniest, most touching and bizarre nonfiction books I've read. A remarkably talented writer and a great book" (Boston Globe).

An NEA Literary Fellow and father of four boys, Daniel was born in New York City and graduated from Brown University, which awarded him an honorary Phi Beta Kappa. His first short story was accepted by The New Yorker when he was 27 and he won an O. Henry Prize and two Pen Fiction Awards for the other stories in his first collection, "SMALL FAMILY WITH ROOSTER." His first novel, "FLIPPING FOR IT," a black comedy about divorce from the man's point of view, was a New York Times New and Noteworthy Paperback. In 2002 he published "HIDING PLACES: A Father and his Sons Retrace Their Family's Escape From the Holocaust" - a saga that intermingles a taut current-day search for the hiding places that saved his family in World War II with memories of the author's own hiding places growing up in WASP 1950s Connecticut - a book which earned starred reviews in both Publishers Weekly ("brilliant") and Kirkus ("remarkable"), as well as the New England Booksellers Discovery Award, a coveted place on the BookSense 76 List, and inclusion in "Best Jewish Writing 2003."

Currently an editor of the international literary magazine THE READING ROOM, he has served as arts & culture editor of the Forward newspaper, travel columnist for Esquire magazine, humor writer for GQ, essayist for The New York Times Magazine, book reviewer for The New York Observer and New York Magazine, and food critic for the past 20 pounds.


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