A heartfelt and entertaining culinary and historical survey of the Chinese diaspora.

HAVE YOU EATEN YET?

STORIES FROM CHINESE RESTAURANTS AROUND THE WORLD

A documentarian recounts his journey touring Chinese restaurants around the world.

According to Kwan, one of the few things that unites China’s incredibly diverse diaspora is a shared love of Chinese food in all its iterations. It was this shared love that motivated the author, who speaks English, French, Japanese, and a few Chinese dialects, to travel “more than 200,000 kilometers…from the Amazon to the Arctic Circle” in search of Chinese restaurants and the histories they contain. The histories are what interest Kwan the most. Making good on his promise to use food as an “entry point,” the author describes every establishment he visited through personal, political, and historical lenses. In Havana, Kwan met a Cuban-born Chinese octogenarian who was also a talented singer specializing in Cuban music. After being robbed in Mombasa, Kenya, Kwan flew to Mauritius, and he traces the history of the Hakka people who settled on this African island in the 16th century. In Haifa, Israel, Kwan learned about how the descendants of Chinese refugees from Vietnam assimilated into Israeli society. “When I was looking for a Chinese restaurant in Israel, it was a challenge to find one run by ethnic Chinese,” he notes. “Most owners were Israelis, with Chinese as cooks or managers. Many even employed Thai cooks, adding a distinctive Thai flavour to their Israeli-Chinese cooking.” Throughout these encounters, Kwan offers bits about his personal life, including his Hong Kong family’s peripatetic life. His rich descriptions, humorous tone, and extensive research make for a pleasurable reading experience. The connections he draws between far-flung places are particularly impressive, revealing a deep empathy and knowledge about the people he encountered. Kwan’s inclusion of his personal history—and the histories of his film crew—gives the book an added feeling of intimacy. Only occasionally does the author feel out of touch—e.g., his lack of a critical lens about Israel’s tumultuous history.

A heartfelt and entertaining culinary and historical survey of the Chinese diaspora.

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-63936-334-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

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I'M GLAD MY MOM DIED

The former iCarly star reflects on her difficult childhood.

In her debut memoir, titled after her 2020 one-woman show, singer and actor McCurdy (b. 1992) reveals the raw details of what she describes as years of emotional abuse at the hands of her demanding, emotionally unstable stage mom, Debra. Born in Los Angeles, the author, along with three older brothers, grew up in a home controlled by her mother. When McCurdy was 3, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Though she initially survived, the disease’s recurrence would ultimately take her life when the author was 21. McCurdy candidly reconstructs those in-between years, showing how “my mom emotionally, mentally, and physically abused me in ways that will forever impact me.” Insistent on molding her only daughter into “Mommy’s little actress,” Debra shuffled her to auditions beginning at age 6. As she matured and starting booking acting gigs, McCurdy remained “desperate to impress Mom,” while Debra became increasingly obsessive about her daughter’s physical appearance. She tinted her daughter’s eyelashes, whitened her teeth, enforced a tightly monitored regimen of “calorie restriction,” and performed regular genital exams on her as a teenager. Eventually, the author grew understandably resentful and tried to distance herself from her mother. As a young celebrity, however, McCurdy became vulnerable to eating disorders, alcohol addiction, self-loathing, and unstable relationships. Throughout the book, she honestly portrays Debra’s cruel perfectionist personality and abusive behavior patterns, showing a woman who could get enraged by everything from crooked eyeliner to spilled milk. At the same time, McCurdy exhibits compassion for her deeply flawed mother. Late in the book, she shares a crushing secret her father revealed to her as an adult. While McCurdy didn’t emerge from her childhood unscathed, she’s managed to spin her harrowing experience into a sold-out stage act and achieve a form of catharsis that puts her mind, body, and acting career at peace.

The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-982185-82-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

TANQUERAY

A former New York City dancer reflects on her zesty heyday in the 1970s.

Discovered on a Manhattan street in 2020 and introduced on Stanton’s Humans of New York Instagram page, Johnson, then 76, shares her dynamic history as a “fiercely independent” Black burlesque dancer who used the stage name Tanqueray and became a celebrated fixture in midtown adult theaters. “I was the only black girl making white girl money,” she boasts, telling a vibrant story about sex and struggle in a bygone era. Frank and unapologetic, Johnson vividly captures aspects of her former life as a stage seductress shimmying to blues tracks during 18-minute sets or sewing lingerie for plus-sized dancers. Though her work was far from the Broadway shows she dreamed about, it eventually became all about the nightly hustle to simply survive. Her anecdotes are humorous, heartfelt, and supremely captivating, recounted with the passion of a true survivor and the acerbic wit of a weathered, street-wise New Yorker. She shares stories of growing up in an abusive household in Albany in the 1940s, a teenage pregnancy, and prison time for robbery as nonchalantly as she recalls selling rhinestone G-strings to prostitutes to make them sparkle in the headlights of passing cars. Complemented by an array of revealing personal photographs, the narrative alternates between heartfelt nostalgia about the seedier side of Manhattan’s go-go scene and funny quips about her unconventional stage performances. Encounters with a variety of hardworking dancers, drag queens, and pimps, plus an account of the complexities of a first love with a drug-addled hustler, fill out the memoir with personality and candor. With a narrative assist from Stanton, the result is a consistently titillating and often moving story of human struggle as well as an insider glimpse into the days when Times Square was considered the Big Apple’s gloriously unpolished underbelly. The book also includes Yee’s lush watercolor illustrations.

A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-27827-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2022

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