Everything I Learned, I Learned in a Chinese Restaurant: A Memoir
Curtis Chin has championed storytelling through decades of involvement with the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, helping to illuminate the unique experiences among diverse Pan-Asian communities. With his memoir, it’s Chin’s turn to share his own coming-of-age story as a young gay American-born Chinese in Detroit.
Locating his story within the cultural anchor of Chung’s Cantonese Cuisine, the family restaurant, Chin tells of humorous and often tragic realizations about the complexity of social identities and the elusive sense of belonging. While his family has been in the United States for many generations, Chin contended with subtle and overt racism. He was a perpetual foreigner in an industrial Midwestern city delineated by Black and White racial strife.
There’s a reason why this book has been hailed as the most awaited memoir by several media outlets. With family, love, and food at the centerpiece, Chin’s memoir expertly balances the heaviness of experiences with racial prejudice with wit and humor. I read the book from the lens of a Filipino-American immigrant who knows first-hand the toll of daily jabs at our sense of self-knowing.
Chin is recognized as a giant in Asian American advocacy, paving the way for representation of diverse voices. It makes perfect sense that Chin found his sense of purpose within the richness of his working-class, Chinese American upbringing.
|Little, Brown and Company
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