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Tea That Burns : A Family Memoir of Chinatown

Hall, Bruce E.

22 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 068483989X / ISBN 13: 9780684839899
Published by Free Press, The, 1998
Condition: Very Good Soft cover
From Crotchety Rancher's Books (Dalton Gardens, ID, U.S.A.)

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Uncorrected Advance Proof, "A Compelling Saga Of One Man's Journey Through His Heritage, His Quest To Know And Exorcise The Ghosts Of His Ancestors, And The Ways They Brought To A Magical Corner Of New York We Know As Chinatown.". Bookseller Inventory # 007321

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Tea That Burns : A Family Memoir of ...

Publisher: Free Press, The

Publication Date: 1998

Binding: Soft cover

Book Condition:Very Good

Edition: Uncorrected Proof

About this title


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.

From Kirkus Reviews:

The history of New York's Chinatown as told through the author's personal history. Hall (Diamond Street, not reviewed) is the son of a second-generation Chinese American and a Yankee of Scottish descent. In his introduction, he writes, ``I guess I'm searching for continuity,'' and thus begins a backwards journey to discover his ``roots.'' The book, however, is not strictly a family memoir, but a history of the genesis and rapid growth of Manhattan's Chinatown with the stories of the author's predecessors woven into it. Hall conscientiously brings up the racism that Chinese immigrants faced in the late 19th century, culminating in the Exclusion Act of 1882. He also writes vividly of the way the Chinese were perceived by Americans (and vice versa), as well as about a particular hardship faced by the first wave of Chinese immigrants--the lack of Chinese women (he discusses the comlicated unions between Chinese men and white women). The book is at its best when he delves into the early history of Chinatown. Hall crowds his story with colorful characters and anecdotes in a way that is reminiscent of Luc Sante's Lowlife: the notorious Quimbo Appo, the crusading newspaperman, Wong Chin Foo. He also brings to life the rise of the Tongs, or Cantonese gangs, and their ensuing wars. While trying to illustrate the differences between cultures, he too often resorts to turns of phrase (``white ghosts,'' ``foreign devils,'' ``big noses,'' ``the seventh month of the Year of the Ox'') that are forced and render a quaint touch to the book. And unfortunately, during the moments when his own story emerges, the narrative goes flat. But from the turn of the century to the present day, Hall's book accelerates overall to a dizzying pace. -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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