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Kitchen Chinese: A Novel About Food, Family, and Finding Yourself Paperback – February 9, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
After her magazine career craters, Isabelle Lee, the narrator of Mah's super sharp debut, leaves New York to reconnect with her family roots in China. Her familiarity with the language and culture limited to kitchen Chinese, Isabelle lands a job at a magazine for the expatriate community in Beijing and finds a circle of friends. However, her relationship with her big-shot attorney sister, Claire, who's lived in China for a while, gets off to a rocky start, with the two not knowing quite what to make of each other. Isabelle's Beijing immersion, coupled with her chick lit arc, provides a refreshing and fun narrative, helped along by a fantastic heroine whose insights into modern China and the expatriate experience will intrigue readers. It's a great start for a writer with much promise. (Feb.)
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After getting fired from her job and being dumped by her boyfriend, Chinese American Isabelle Lee decides to leave New York for Beijing in the hope of reigniting her stalled journalism career. She moves in with her older sister, Claire, a studious lawyer turned glamorous expat dating a powerful, married man. After failing to score a job at one of the high-profile foreign bureaus, Isabelle settles for a job as a food critic at an expat magazine called Beijing NOW. As she settles into her new job, Isabelle draws the attention of two men: a dashing Chinese pop star named Jeff and her charming neighbor Charlie, who works at the American Embassy. Though she’s taken with both, Jeff’s attentions threaten to cost her an important story for the magazine. The vibrant depiction of Beijing, lush descriptions of sumptuous Chinese meals, and Isabelle’s struggle with how others perceive her distinguish Mah’s first novel. --Kristine Huntley
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Top customer reviews
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She moves to Beijing to live with her sister, Claire, a very successful lawyer who is a complete mystery to Isabelle. As Isabelle adjusts to life in Beijing (knowing very little Chinese), we meet a variety of interesting characters, and her world comes to life. It is lovely to see her transition throughout the book - she starts as a self-doubting, sad person and ends up with a lot more confidence and joy about her life. She finds her passion in writing about culture and cuisine in China and forms important friendships along the way. You'll love the author's descriptions about the food and atmosphere in China, too!
I definitely recommend this book. I think it an original and warm story.
Ann Mah nails the expat experience and complicated family relationships. Her descriptions of what Isabelle ate in China has me craving every spice and crunch and swallow.
Kitchen Chinese was the perfect end of summer read.
Most recent customer reviews
I liked the simplicity and good-feel of the story.
I would recommend it