Tea That Burns: A Family Memoir of Chinatown
Book: Tea That Burns: A Family Memoir of Chinatown , by Bruce Edward Hall, ISBN10: 0743236599, ISBN13: 9780743236591, Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group, January 2002, Paperback
Bruce Edward Hall may have an English name and a Connecticut upbringing, but for him a trip to Chinatown, New York, is a visit to the ghosts of his Chinese ancestors - ancestors who helped create the neighborhood that is really as much a transplanted Cantonese village as it is a part of a great American city. Among these Ancestors are missionaries and reprobates, businessmen and scholars. In Tea That Burns, Bruce Edward Hall uses the stories of these and others to tell the history of Chinatown, starting with the tumultuous journey from an ancient empire ruled by the nine dragons of the universe to a bewildering land of elevated trains, solitary labor, and violent discrimination. The world they constructed was built of backbreaking labor and poetry contests; gambling dens and Cantonese opera; Tong Wars, festivals, firecrackers, incense, and food - always food, to celebrate every conceivable occasion and to confound the ever-meddlesome "White Devils" as they attempt to master the mysteries of chop sticks and stir-fry.
Hall is able to make Chinatown as vivdly real to the reader as if he'd live there since the time of his great-grandfather. . . [his] narrative soars with his descriptions of the annual succession of joyous parades and celebrations that are the life and breth of Chinatown. . . . At the beginning of his remarkable book, Hall writes, 'This is a tactile history. I want the reader to be able to know what it felt like to live in Chinatown through the years, what it looked like, what it smelled like.' This reader certainly did. -- New York Magazine
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