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Hunger: A Novella and Stories

Chang, Lan Samantha

833 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0393046648 / ISBN 13: 9780393046649
Published by W.W. Norton & Co., New York, 1998
Condition: Very Good Hardcover
From Monroe Street Books (Middlebury, VT, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

191 pages, SIGNED BY AUTHOR on title page. Spotless and tight copy. Record # 456219. Bookseller Inventory # 456219

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Hunger: A Novella and Stories

Publisher: W.W. Norton & Co., New York

Publication Date: 1998

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Very Good

Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title


Not since Maxine Hong Kingston and Amy Tan has a fiction writer explored with such powerful intensity the experience of being Asian American.

The characters who inhabit this extraordinary fictional debut are caught between the burden of their past history and the fragility of their unchartered future. Hunger illuminates how first-generation immigrants from China, culturally and emotionally uprooted from their homeland, mistrust connection even as they hunger for attachment ― and how the past affects and shapes their children.

In luminous prose, these moving stories of love and loss explore the profound and painful ties between husband and wife, parent and child, sister and sister. The stunning title novella is told by a woman whose love for an exiled musician compels her into a tragic marriage in which her husband's unfulfilled desires nearly destroy their children. In other stories, a ghost seduces a young girl into a flooded river; a mother commands a daughter to avenge her father's death.

Lan Samantha Chang weaves the forces of war and magic, food and desire, ghosts and family, into haunting tales. Again and again, Chang asks the question: is love not a kind of burden, stifling and terrifying in the choices and responsibilities it forces on us? And yet we yearn for it, define ourselves by our experience of it, cannot live without it.


The characters in Lan Samantha Chang's Hunger are starved for any number of things: acceptance, love, success, and even dreams of home. In the title novella, a thwarted violinist struggles with his second-tier status, forcing his dreams on his daughters and his nightmares on his wife, the narrator. "Some Chinese make their fortunes in America," she realizes. "Tian and I were not among them. Perhaps we lacked the forgetfulness that is essential to moving on." Chang beautifully conveys the pressures on these bewildered immigrant parents, whose aspirations are rarely matched by reality, and their quietly rebellious children. And while Tian remains far more frightening than likable, his long-ago escape from mainland China instantly humanizes this paternal despot:

He struggled slowly toward the silhouette of the refugee ship, the Sonya, his throat dried hollow with seawater, his left arm numb from holding up the instrument. At one point, he slowed and floated in the waves, fitted the familiar shape against his chin, as if he were considering a melody. But he only rested for a moment.
Though this novella is definitely the collection's standout, Chang's other stories are equally impressive explorations of desire and need, isolation and fear. When it comes to evoking the smash of cultures, national and familial, this superlatively gifted author has perfect pitch. --Kerry Fried

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