Monday, April 25, 2016

Review: Disappearing Moon Cafe: A Novel by Sky Lee

Disappearing Moon Cafe
Read: March 8-19, 2016
Rating: 3 of 5 stars
Pages: 288
Genres: Canada, historical fiction

Blurb from Goodreads:

"Sometimes funny, sometimes scandalous, always compelling, this extraordinary first novel chronicles the women of the Wong family from frontier railroad camps to modern-day Vancouver. As past sins and inborn strengths are passed on from mother to daughter to granddaughter, each generation confronts, in its own way, the same problems — isolation, racism, and the clash of cultures. Moving effortlessly between past and present, between North America and China, Sky Lee weaves fiction and historical fact into a memorable and moving picture of a people’s struggle for identity."

Ah.  English novels.  What fun.

This was an interesting kind of book.  Although...I can't say for sure if it was the good kind or the bad.  Anyhoo.

This book was set in Vancouver* and written in chunks...or, unchronologically.  And this just made reading the book plain weird.  Or, confusing.

*yes, my English teacher has this strange obsession with Canadian literature...

Kae, the narrator of the story...has a very messed up and complicated family history, and this novel follows her as she tells of her ancestors' troubles. 

Frankly, not all the stories were interesting, but I did like Fong Mei's (FM) parts quite a bit.

So...let's see...if I could summarize the problems here...

We have a girl, FM, specially brought over from China so that she could have a kid with this other guy (CF)...but it's been five years, and still no kid.  So the mother (ML) of the guy (CF) decides FM is infertile and arranges for another woman (SA, who has had kids before) to secretly try to have kids with CF. But months have passed...and STILL NO KIDS.  CF finally comes to the conclusion that HE is the one that can't have kids, so he tells SA to secretly have babies with someone else (W). Meanwhile, FM decides that she won't just stand by idly, and decides to have babies with a friend of hers (TA)...which happens to be a half-brother of her husband (CF).  And if that isn't messed up enough for you, their kids know next to nothing of this...and they fall in love with each other.  


It's crazy, I know...  

And I had to read it.  And answer more than a hundred questions on it.  



I liked the, don't look at me weird.  The swearing in this book came as a pleasant surprise to me, because just the other day, my mom taught me some swear words in Foochow...and they sounded eerily similar to the swear words spoken in this book.  Awesome, right?

Reading about the tragic history of this family was also fascinating because...I'm Chinese, too.  My English teacher has made me read novels on Aboriginals, on Vietnamese, but this is the very first novel about CHINESE!  Yay!

And surprisingly, the order of how the stories didn't confuse me as much as I thought it would. But...what DID confuse me a little...was the narrator.  I was almost always questioning who was narrating the story....*sigh*

And another thing...there were a few parts where I found myself unimaginably bored with the events taking place...or I had no idea what I was supposed to be taking from the actions going on between the characters...the questions didn't help, either.  Ah wells.

BUT!  I'm really looking forward to the 20 paged personal narrative I'm going to have to write!  Yay!

All in all...not my kind of book (obviously), but not bad...I enjoyed the Chinese aspects of it.

English novels you've read recently?  
Most MESSED up English novel you've ever read?
Or, any novel, for that matter?

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