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1 Beaverton Cooking and Food- Gastronomic Literature

Stealing Buddha's Dinner

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Stealing Buddha's Dinner Cover

ISBN13: 9780670038329
ISBN10: 0670038326
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

An award-winning writer takes a groundbreaking look at the experience and psyche of the Asian American male.    Alex Tizon landed in an America that saw Asian women as sexy and Asian men as sexless. Immigrating from the Philippines as a young boy, everything he saw and heard taught him to be ashamed of his face, his skin color, his height.  His fierce and funny observations of sex and the Asian American male include his own quest for love during college in the 1980s, a tortured tutorial on stereotypes that still make it hard for Asian men to get the girl. Tizon writes: "I had to educate myself on my own worth. It was a sloppy, piecemeal education, but I had to do it because no one else was going to do it for me."  And then, a transformation. First, Tizons growing understanding that shame is universal: that his own just happened to be about race. Next, seismic cultural changes - from Jerry Yangs phenomenal success with Yahoo! Inc., to actor Ken Watanabes emergence in Hollywood blockbusters, to Jeremy Lins meteoric NBA rise.  Finally, Tizons deeply original, taboo-bending investigation turns outward, tracking the unheard stories of young Asian men today, in a landscape still complex but much changed for the Asian American man. 

Review:

"Nguyen was just eight months old when her father brought her and her sister out of Vietnam in 1975. The family relocated in Michigan, where young Bich (pronounced 'bic') wrestled with conflicting desires for her grandmother's native cooking and the American junk food the 'real people' around her ate. The fascination with Pringles and Happy Meals is one symptom of the memoir's frequent reliance on the surface details of pop culture to generate verisimilitude instead of digging deeper into the emotional realities of her family drama, which plays out as her father drinks and broods and her stepmother, Rosa, tries to maintain a tight discipline. Readers are inundated with the songs Nguyen heard on the radio and the TV shows she watched — even her childhood thoughts about Little House on the Prairie — but tantalizing questions about her family remain unresolved, like why her father and stepmother continued to live together after their divorce. The mother left behind in Saigon is a shadowy presence who only comes into view briefly toward the end, another line of inquiry Nguyen chooses not to pursue too deeply. The passages that most intensely describe Nguyen's childhood desire to assimilate compensate somewhat for such gaps, but the overall impression is muted." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

“Only a truly gifted writer could make me long for the Kool Aid, Rice a Roni, and Kit Kats celebrated in Stealing Buddha's Dinner. In this charming, funny, original memoir about growing up as an outsider in America, Bich Nguyen takes you on a journey you won't forget. I can hardly wait for what comes next.” --Judy Blume

Synopsis:

A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist's memoir, in the spirit of Richard Rodriquezs Hunger for Memory and Nathan McCalls Makes Me Wanna Holler—an intimate look at the mythology, experience, and psyche of the Asian American male

Synopsis:

From an award-winning author, a novel about a Vietnamese American familys ties to The Little House on the Prairie

Jobless with a PhD, Lee Lien returns home to her Chicago suburb from grad school, only to find herself contending with issues shes evaded since college. But when her brother disappears, he leaves behind an

object from their mothers Vietnam past that stirs up a forgotten childhood dream: a gold-leaf brooch, abandoned by an American reporter in Saigon back in 1965, that might be an heirloom belonging to Laura Ingalls Wilder. As Lee explores the tenuous facts of this connection, she unearths more than expected—a trail of clues and enticements that lead her from the dusty stacks of library archives to hilarious prairie life reenactments and ultimately to San Francisco, where her findings will transform strangers lives as well as her own.

A dazzling literary mystery about the true origins of a time-tested classic, Pioneer Girl is also the deeply moving tale of a second-generation Vietnamese daughter, the parents she struggles to honor, the missing brother she is expected to bring home—even as her discoveries yield dramatic insights that will free her to live her own life to its full potential.

Synopsis:

As a Vietnamese girl coming of age in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Nguyen is filled with a rapacious hunger for American identity, and in the pre-PC-era Midwest (where the Jennifers and Tiffanys reign supreme), the desire to belong transmutes into a passion for American food. More exotic- seeming than her Buddhist grandmother's traditional specialties, the campy, preservative-filled "delicacies" of mainstream America capture her imagination.

In Stealing Buddha's Dinner, the glossy branded allure of Pringles, Kit Kats, and Toll House Cookies becomes an ingenious metaphor for Nguyen's struggle to become a "real" American, a distinction that brings with it the dream of the perfect school lunch, burgers and Jell- O for dinner, and a visit from the Kool-Aid man. Vivid and viscerally powerful, this remarkable memoir about growing up in the 1980s introduces an original new literary voice and an entirely new spin on the classic assimilation story.

About the Author

Bich Minh Nguyen (pronounced /Bit Min New-win/) teaches creative writing at Purdue University. Stealing Buddh‛s Dinner is her first book.

Table of Contents

Killing Magellan 1

Land of the Giants 23

Orientals 43

Seeking Hot Asian Babes 63

Babes, Continued 81

Asian Boy 93

Tiny Men on the Big Screen 111

Its Color Was Its Size 129

Getting Tall 143

Wen Wu 159

Yellow Tornado 177

“What Men Are Supposed To Do” 197

“One of Us, Not One of Us” 209

Big Little Fighter 223

Authors Note 245

Acknowledgments 249

Selected Sources 251

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Shoshana, February 24, 2008 (view all comments by Shoshana)
Nguyen's memoir of growing up Vietnamese in Michigan after fleeing Saigon in 1975 is somewhat different from similar memoirs, and perhaps shouldn't be understood as an example of the same genre. Many accounts that begin with a similar premise are about not fitting in, about traumatization, about striving for the immigrant's version of the American Dream. While Nguyen certainly enacts and recounts all of these themes, the story in the forefront of this memoir is the allure of a particular form of consumption. Literally, this is a paean to the junk foods of Nguyen's Michigan childhood. Symbolically, it is a tale of incorporation, of gobbling up, of becoming American by ingesting American products. Yes, there are some Amy Tan-like moments of admiring the previous generation's culture, but most of the time Nguyen reminds me of the Vietnamese baby Kim from Trudeau's Doonesbury strips of the 1970's. Old people like me remember that long before she married Mike Doonesbury, Kim learned to speak English from television commercials, and her first words were "Big Mac."

Nguyen's America - through - oral - incorporation rings true, and is merely a different spin on the narrative of acculturation. At the same time, it has trouble finding its emotional center, and feels like a small book in some ways. Nguyen's relentless comparisons of herself to others wore me down. I can only assume that she found it exhausting as well. It's a story that's about as far from a Buddhist sensibility as you can get, and might have been more complex had this cultural tension been better articulated and woven into the story over time.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780670038329
Author:
Nguyen, Bich Minh
Publisher:
Penguin Books
Author:
Tizon, Alex
Subject:
Women
Subject:
Personal Memoirs
Subject:
Ethnic Cultures - General
Subject:
People of Color
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20080129
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Illustrations:
b/w photo in front matter
Pages:
272
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 1 lb
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects

Cooking and Food » Food Writing » Gastronomic Literature
Cooking and Food » Food Writing » General
History and Social Science » American Studies » General

Stealing Buddha's Dinner Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$8.95 In Stock
Product details 272 pages PENGUIN PUTNAM TRADE - English 9780670038329 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Nguyen was just eight months old when her father brought her and her sister out of Vietnam in 1975. The family relocated in Michigan, where young Bich (pronounced 'bic') wrestled with conflicting desires for her grandmother's native cooking and the American junk food the 'real people' around her ate. The fascination with Pringles and Happy Meals is one symptom of the memoir's frequent reliance on the surface details of pop culture to generate verisimilitude instead of digging deeper into the emotional realities of her family drama, which plays out as her father drinks and broods and her stepmother, Rosa, tries to maintain a tight discipline. Readers are inundated with the songs Nguyen heard on the radio and the TV shows she watched — even her childhood thoughts about Little House on the Prairie — but tantalizing questions about her family remain unresolved, like why her father and stepmother continued to live together after their divorce. The mother left behind in Saigon is a shadowy presence who only comes into view briefly toward the end, another line of inquiry Nguyen chooses not to pursue too deeply. The passages that most intensely describe Nguyen's childhood desire to assimilate compensate somewhat for such gaps, but the overall impression is muted." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , “Only a truly gifted writer could make me long for the Kool Aid, Rice a Roni, and Kit Kats celebrated in Stealing Buddha's Dinner. In this charming, funny, original memoir about growing up as an outsider in America, Bich Nguyen takes you on a journey you won't forget. I can hardly wait for what comes next.” --Judy Blume
"Synopsis" by , A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist's memoir, in the spirit of Richard Rodriquezs Hunger for Memory and Nathan McCalls Makes Me Wanna Holler—an intimate look at the mythology, experience, and psyche of the Asian American male

"Synopsis" by ,
From an award-winning author, a novel about a Vietnamese American familys ties to The Little House on the Prairie

Jobless with a PhD, Lee Lien returns home to her Chicago suburb from grad school, only to find herself contending with issues shes evaded since college. But when her brother disappears, he leaves behind an

object from their mothers Vietnam past that stirs up a forgotten childhood dream: a gold-leaf brooch, abandoned by an American reporter in Saigon back in 1965, that might be an heirloom belonging to Laura Ingalls Wilder. As Lee explores the tenuous facts of this connection, she unearths more than expected—a trail of clues and enticements that lead her from the dusty stacks of library archives to hilarious prairie life reenactments and ultimately to San Francisco, where her findings will transform strangers lives as well as her own.

A dazzling literary mystery about the true origins of a time-tested classic, Pioneer Girl is also the deeply moving tale of a second-generation Vietnamese daughter, the parents she struggles to honor, the missing brother she is expected to bring home—even as her discoveries yield dramatic insights that will free her to live her own life to its full potential.

"Synopsis" by ,
As a Vietnamese girl coming of age in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Nguyen is filled with a rapacious hunger for American identity, and in the pre-PC-era Midwest (where the Jennifers and Tiffanys reign supreme), the desire to belong transmutes into a passion for American food. More exotic- seeming than her Buddhist grandmother's traditional specialties, the campy, preservative-filled "delicacies" of mainstream America capture her imagination.

In Stealing Buddha's Dinner, the glossy branded allure of Pringles, Kit Kats, and Toll House Cookies becomes an ingenious metaphor for Nguyen's struggle to become a "real" American, a distinction that brings with it the dream of the perfect school lunch, burgers and Jell- O for dinner, and a visit from the Kool-Aid man. Vivid and viscerally powerful, this remarkable memoir about growing up in the 1980s introduces an original new literary voice and an entirely new spin on the classic assimilation story.

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