Reviews for Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen : A Manifesto in 41 Tales

Booklist Reviews 2009 August #1
Double your pleasure, double your fun. The "Double Happiness" twins, Moonie and Mei Ling Wong, are delivery girls for the family's takeout Chinese restaurant by night and avatars of pop culture by day. Whether dressed in "Hello Kitty" pj's or red-satin hapi coats, when the girls cruise the beaches and biker bars, strip-mall churches and McMansions of southern California, raucous insanity and mayhem ensue. Raised in a hailstorm of colorful epithets strewn venomously by their cleaver-toting grandmother, Mei Ling and Moonie represent both the sweet and sour of Chinese American life, honor bound to maintain their heritage, yet expected to obtain the American dream of professional and personal success. Chin captures their diametrically opposed personas through a series of lightning-quick snapshots bearing such intriguing titles as "After Enlightenment, There Is Yam Gruel," and "The Ghost of Gas Pig Illusions." Based on classical Chinese mythology, ghost stories, and legends, Chin's unconventional coming-of-age novel is a frothy and tart exploration of the Asian immigrant experience. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2009 July #2
Wildly profane and funny riffs on folklore, chronicling the adventures of two very modern Chinese-American sisters.Mei Ling and Moonie Wong may live in contemporary California, but their iron-willed grandmother will not let the twins forget their ancestral land, or the wrongs done to it. On reading that a pond stocked with carp is a gift from the Japanese, Grandmother plucks an enormous fish from the water. "Remember this," she instructs. "Hirohito was a mass murderer and a rapist and this pond was built with Chinese blood." Then she smashes the carp's head five times against a stone wall ("This one is for Manchuria, this one for Nanking…") and takes it home to cook. Mei Ling and Moonie are supposed to forego all the temptations of modern San Diego and be dutiful, silent and chaste. Once they are old enough to drive, they have to spend holidays delivering mediocre Chinese-American food from their suburban family restaurant, "wearing red satin hapi coats with…‘Double Happiness' embroidered on the back." But like the heroines of some ancient Chinese drama, the sisters are too strong-willed for subservience. Mei Ling is unabashedly promiscuous, enjoying the multicultural young men she attracts, while Moonie flirts with homosexuality and violence, wreaking havoc on anyone who stands in her way. Forty brief vignettes ("Why Men Are Dogs," "After Enlightenment, There Is Yam Gruel," etc.) reveal that both girls are in fact much like their grandmother. In this loosely knit series of short stories, many of which are based on Buddhist and Taoist parables as well as Chinese ghost stories, poet Chin (Rhapsody in Plain Yellow, 2003) spins out two young lives with outrageous humor. Multifaceted rather than linear, magical rather than literal, these tales tend to focus on the twins' childhood and adolescence, often presenting contrasting views of such similar rites of passages as dating and the loss of virginity. A fresh, chaotic and sexy updating of the cross-cultural experience. Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews 2009 November #1

This story is about the Double Happiness Chinese restaurant, twin sisters Moonie and Mei Ling Wong, and the grandmother who raised them in Southern California. The sisters act as delivery girls for the restaurant, but they aspire to a better life, demonstrating sexual curiosity and independence even as they wrestle with their heritage. Events are told in fits and starts, with reference to traditional Chinese folk tales, dream sequences, sexual encounters, ghostly appearances, and narration by a variety of characters. The work offers no strongly discernible story line, progressing as if the narrator of the moment were using the TV remote to flip through channels, which results in disjointed glimpses of a puzzle the reader may or may not be able to assemble. VERDICT Award-winning poet Chin's debut novel will be of interest to readers of experimental fiction.--Joanna M. Burkhardt, Univ. of Rhode Island Libs., Providence

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2009 July #3

Poet Chin's irreverent first novel follows the bizarre fortunes of a Chinese family helmed by a cleaver-toting grandmother and filled out by her twin granddaughters, Moonie and Mei Ling. The girls have a hard time fitting in, in Southern California, working as delivery girls for their family's restaurant and acting as chauffeurs and translators for Granny and her friends. In chapters that read like short stories, varying in tone from darkly comedic to folktale-like, the twins stumble into adulthood. As a teenager, Mei Ling wakes up to discover her formerly slanted eyes are now round, causing her to feel glamorously Americanized and ashamed at the same time. Elsewhere, Granny asks a friend to pray the twins won't end up dancing at the Pink Pussycat. It turns out to be a valid prayer: Mei Ling relentlessly tries to bed customers, leaving responsible Moonie to keep her on a leash. Eventually, Moonie and Mei Ling graduate from the delivery truck and end up in top-notch medical schools, but even in success, their paths are comically divergent. Chin's provocative take on acculturation, immigrant life and family ties is a unique innovation. (Sept.)

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