From Publishers Weekly
This eagerly awaited follow-up to Fae Myenne Ng's first novel, Bone
, again addresses the issues of Chinese-American identity in this moving, unflinching yet sometimes witty story. Jack Moon Szeto enters San Francisco in 1952, falsely posing as the son of Yi-Tung Gold Szeto, a registered U.S. citizen. In return, Jack must pay Szeto by working for two years and marrying a fake wife. Employed as a butcher, Jack takes the younger Joice Qwan as his lover. Even though she becomes pregnant, Joice refuses to marry Jack. Despondent, Jack attempts to nullify his contract with Szeto before entering the INS's Chinese Confession Program and renouncing his false identity, resulting in Szeto's deportation, but not citizenship for Jack. Toward the end, the story shifts to Jack's congenial relationship with his spirited daughter Veda, whose growing mission is to protect Jack by making him a naturalized U.S. citizen. Ng's simple, sturdy yet poetic prose is juxtaposed against the clinical language of Jack's immigration documents; the result is a nuanced portrayal of two generations and the many challenges they face in their quest for security and fulfillment. (May)
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Fifteen years after the publication of her critically acclaimed first novel, Bone, Ng returns to the scene, offering a searing portrait of another immigrant struggling to get by in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Butcher Jack Szeto spends long hours at his job, attempting to buy his freedom from Yi-Tung Gold Szeto. Jack entered the country illegally in 1952, posing as the son of the powerful entrepreneuer; in return, he must work off his debt and pretend to marry the much younger woman Yi-Tung wants to take as his second wife. Jack, however, has fallen in love with free-spirited Joice Qwan, and when she tells him she is pregnant with his child, he longs for the freedom to marry her. He decides to cooperate with the Chinese Confession program, telling them of his false identity, which results in Szeto’s deportation. ThoughYi-Tung exacts a terrible revenge and Joice refuses to marry him, Jack finds true serenity in the years spent raising their daughter. Ng brings to this moving story both a sensuous, poetic style and an understated tone that only serves to underline the immigrant struggle. --Joanne Wilkinson