Food journalist Angela Hui grew up in rural Wales, as daughter to the owners of the Lucky Star Chinese takeaway. Angela grew up behind the counter, helping take orders and serve customers, while also trying to find her place in this small Welsh town. In her new memoir, Takeaway: Stories from a Childhood behind the Counter, she writes about the surprisingly central role the takeaway plays in rural Britain.
In Kathryn Ma’s new novel, a young man from Yunnan who has given himself the name of Shelley—as in the poet—has developed a term to describe a “belief in the unspoken bonds between countrymen that transcend time and borders”. It gives its name to the book, The Chinese Groove, which starts out in a small city called Gejiu in Yunnan, but soon transits along with its protagonist to California. Despite its upbeat title, the novel centers around the ways in which people deal with grief.
Sorayya Khan has published a number of novels that touch upon her family background—as the daughter of a Pakistani father and a Dutch mother—and the 1970s Pakistan of her youth. In her latest book, however, she turns to non-fiction and writes a family memoir, the content of which has informed her previous works of fiction. We Take Our Cities With Us is a heartfelt love story not just of her parents, but also of the places where Khan and her family have lived.
An eye-opening and soul-nourishing journey through Chinese food around the world. From Cape Town, South Africa, to small-town Saskatchewan, family-run Chinese restaurants are global icons of immigration, community and delicious food. The cultural outposts of far-flung settlers, bringers of dim sum, Peking duck and creative culinary hybrids, Chinese restaurants are a microcosm of greater social forces. They are an insight into time, history, and place.
Of all the waves of Chinese emigration that have taken place throughout history, it is arguably the Cantonese diaspora that has left an indelible mark wherever they have settled around the globe. The footprints of early migrants—mainly from Hong Kong or southern mainland China—can be tracked by the opening of Chinese takeaways, through which a (Westernized) taste of home was introduced to foreign lands.
In Larissa Lai’s new novel, The Lost Century, elderly Violet Mah wonders, “Why is it that the grandchild most distant from the history is the one most interested in it?” It is this question that frames Lai’s story set in Hong Kong just before and during the Japanese occupation. This question is also the basis of another new novel, Nancy Lam’s debut, The Loyal Daughter, which takes place in southern China, Hong Kong, and Ontario.
Sati Mookherjee’s grandfather was arrested 17 years before India gained independence and went into exile in the UK. He returned to India in 1939 when England entered World War II. Mookherjee’s debut, Eye, based on her grandfather’s memoirs, is not a traditional collection of poetry, but rather a series of just three poems that give a vivid sense of his experiences during this historic era.