Moon Cakes by Andrea Louie

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Synopsis

More than just a sweet Chinese pastry eaten during the Mid-Autumn Festival, a moon cake is a morsel of tradition....
The second daughter of successful Chinese parents, Maya Li grows up in Ohio, raised on equal measures of steamed rice and sliced white bread. Never a stellar student or an ambitious careerist, Maya seems content to stand in the reflected light of her beautiful, talented sister. Now, working in New York City in a series of dead-end jobs, she finds herself heartbroken and in search of the sense of self she lost with the sudden death of her beloved father and with the end of a poignant love affair.
Then, almost accidentally, she is drawn to the country of her parents' youth. Maya embarks on a trip to China, much to the bewilderment of her aloof sister and preoccupied mother, both of whom never looked back on their legacy of sadness.
Seeing too much in too little time, Maya and her tour group rush through temples, tombs, and beyond the Forbidden City. As she emerges into the rural peasant countryside, Maya's mind is awash with both memory and discovery, remorse and wonder. One thing emerges clearly: She is on a journey of the soul, and her connection to the land of her parents' birth is enduring.
The unfolding geography--of both China and Maya's inner, private landscape--emerges vividly in this haunting first novel about a young woman coming to terms with her personal and ancestral history and with the increasing complexities of what it means to be American.
 

About Andrea Louie

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Andrea Louie is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Michigan State University.
 
Published May 23, 1995 by One World/Ballantine. 332 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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As she begins the recollections that intersect with descriptions of the tour she's just made, she recalls that her odyssey began with a futile childhood search in her all-American hometown for moon cakes, traditional symbols of wholeness honored by her father, a doctor whose warm nature contraste...

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Entertainment Weekly

What works best here is precisely the unassuming ordinariness of Maya and her gentle anecdotal narrative, meandering through a happy Ohio childhood interrupted by the sudden death of her companionable father, the increasing remoteness of her beautiful mother, the slow yuppification of her adored ...

Aug 25 1995 | Read Full Review of Moon Cakes

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