Synopses & Reviews
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.
"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.)
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.
"Relevant not only to anyone who's ever lusted after the perfect snack . . . but anyone who's ever felt like an outsider."
-San Francisco Chronicle
"A charming memoir . . . Her prose is engaging, precise, compact."
-The New York Times Book Review
"Her typical and not-so-typical childhood experiences give her story a universal flavor."
"In Big Little Man Alex Tizon fearlessly penetrates the core of not just what it means to be male and Asian in America, but what it means to be human anywhere."-Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild "Part candid memoir, part incisive cultural study, Big Little Man addresses - and explodes - the stereotypes of Asian manhood. Alex Tizon writes with acumen and courage, and the result is a book at once illuminating and, yes, liberating." -Peter Ho Davies, author of The Welsh Girl
A coming-of-age memoir by a Vietnamese American recounts her struggles for an American identity in the pre-politically correct climate of the Midwest and her passion for American food in the face of her family's Buddhist lifestyle.
A vivid, funny, and viscerally powerful memoir about childhood, assimilation, food, and growing up in the 1980s
Beginning with Nguyens familys harrowing migration from Saigon in 1975, Stealing Buddhas 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.
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.
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 expecteda 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 homeeven as her discoveries yield dramatic insights that will free her to live her own life to its full potential.
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
About the Author
Alex Tizon, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, is former Seattle bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times and longtime staff writer for the Seattle Times. He co-produced a 60 Minutes segment on Third World mail-order brides in Asia, and currently teaches at the University of Oregon. Big Little Man was the winner of the prestigious Work in Progress Prize from the J. Anthony Lukas Prize Project. Tizon's website is alextizon.com.
Table of Contents
Killing Magellan 1
Land of the Giants 23
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
Selected Sources 251