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1 Burnside Cooking and Food- Food Writing

Stealing Buddha's Dinner

by

Stealing Buddha's Dinner Cover

ISBN13: 9780143113034
ISBN10: 0143113038
Condition: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A vivid, funny, and viscerally powerful memoir about childhood, assimilation, food, and growing up in the 1980s.

As a Vietnamese girl coming of age in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Bich Nguyen is filled with a rapacious hunger for American identity. In the pre-PC era Midwest, where the devoutly Christian blond-haired, blue-eyed Jennifers and Tiffanys reign supreme, Nguyen's barely conscious desire to belong transmutes into a passion for American food. More exotic seeming than her Buddhist grandmother's traditional specialties — spring rolls, delicate pancakes stuffed with meats, fried shrimp cakes — the campy, preservative-filled "delicacies" of mainstream America capture her imagination. And in this remarkable book, the glossy branded allure of such American foods as Pringles, Kit Kats, and Toll House cookies become an ingenious metaphor for her struggle to fit in, to become a "real" American.

Beginning with Nguyen's family's harrowing migration from Saigon in 1975, Stealing Buddha's Dinner is nostalgic and candid, deeply satisfying and minutely observed, and stands as a unique vision of the immigrant experience and a lyrical ode to how identity is often shaped by the things we long for.

Review:

"A charming memoir from a Vietnamese immigrant....[And] how she copes with sibling envy, schoolmate rivalries, authoritarian figures, youthful insecurities and a nagging mystery." Ben Fong-Torres, New York Times

Review:

"Far from being a memoir of what could be described as fitting into the kitschy ethnic-lit genre, her story is at once personal and broad, about one Vietnamese refugee navigating U.S. culture as well as an exploration of identity." Los Angeles Times

Review:

"It's clear that writing the book was Nguyen's way of coming to terms with the turbulent events of growing up. All too often the character of Bich is the quiet girl in the corner, unable to speak her mind. Here, she finally does." San Francisco Chronicle

Review:

"Nguyen brings back moments and sensations with such vivid clarity that readers will find themselves similarly jolted back in time." Minneapolis Star Tribune

Review:

"Her typical and not-so-typical childhood experiences give her story a universal flavor." USA Today

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/) was born in Saigon in 1974. Her work has appeared in Gourmet, People, and the Chicago Tribune, She currently teaches at the University of Indiana.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

McGuffy Ann, March 2, 2011 (view all comments by McGuffy Ann)
Stealing Buddha’s Dinner


Bich Minh Nyugen



This is the memoir of a young Vietnamese girl growing up in 1980’s Michigan. Bich Nyugen tells her emotional story--- of being a Vietnamese immigrant after the fall of Saigon, 1975.

Not long after settling in Michigan, Bich’s father marries a Hispanic woman. It is interesting to see yet another culture blend into Bich’s young life. Throughout the book we gradually learn about Bich’s mother and the mystery surrounding her absence.

Bich artfully exposes moments and facts through food, tradition, culture, and the youthful desire to “fit in”, to “belong”. Her story is both universal and intimate.

A very unique memoir, sweet and poignant, its flavor will linger.

Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Rebecca Feind, October 29, 2008 (view all comments by Rebecca Feind)
Like Francisco Jiménez's works Breaking Through and The Circuit, this book should be required reading for all Americans. A memoir told honestly and delicately, with amazing pieces of humor and generosity.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 3 readers found this comment helpful)
tolu162002, March 29, 2008 (view all comments by tolu162002)
Pls, how can we in nigeria get to buy some of the books on your site?
Am a good reader i will like to get the books.
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(3 of 5 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 3 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780143113034
Author:
Nguyen, Bich Minh
Publisher:
Penguin Books
Subject:
Personal Memoirs
Subject:
Ethnic Cultures - General
Subject:
Women
Subject:
Grand rapids (mich.)
Subject:
Nguyen, Bich Minh
Subject:
Biography - General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Paperback / softback
Publication Date:
20080129
Binding:
Hardback
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


Biography » General
Biography » Women
Cooking and Food » Food Writing » Gastronomic Literature
Cooking and Food » Food Writing » General
History and Social Science » Ethnic Studies » Asian American

Stealing Buddha's Dinner Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$8.95 In Stock
Product details 272 pages Penguin Books - English 9780143113034 Reviews:
"Review" by , "A charming memoir from a Vietnamese immigrant....[And] how she copes with sibling envy, schoolmate rivalries, authoritarian figures, youthful insecurities and a nagging mystery."
"Review" by , "Far from being a memoir of what could be described as fitting into the kitschy ethnic-lit genre, her story is at once personal and broad, about one Vietnamese refugee navigating U.S. culture as well as an exploration of identity."
"Review" by , "It's clear that writing the book was Nguyen's way of coming to terms with the turbulent events of growing up. All too often the character of Bich is the quiet girl in the corner, unable to speak her mind. Here, she finally does."
"Review" by , "Nguyen brings back moments and sensations with such vivid clarity that readers will find themselves similarly jolted back in time."
"Review" by , "Her typical and not-so-typical childhood experiences give her story a universal flavor."
"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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