Fifth Chinese Daughter

Jade Snow Wong

  • $19.95 paperback (9780295968261) Add to Cart
  • hardcover not available
  • Published: 1989
  • Subject Listing: Asian American Studies; Literature / Fiction
  • Bibliographic information: 256 pp.
  • Series: Classics of Asian American Literature
  • Contents

Originally published in 1945 and now reissued with a new introduction by the author, Jade Snow Wong's story is one of struggle and achievements. These memoirs of the author's first twenty-four years are thoughtful, informative, and highly entertaining. They not only portray a young woman and her unique family in San Francisco's Chinatown, but they are rich in the details that light up a world within the world of America. The third-person singular style is rooted in Chinese literary form, reflecting cultural disregard for the individual, yet Jad Snow Wong's story also is typically American.

We first meet Jade Snow Wong the child, narrowly confined by the family and factory life, bound to respect and obey her elders while shouldering responsibility for younger brothers and sisters - a solemn child well versed in the proper order of things, who knew that punishment was sure for any infraction of etiquette. Then the schoolgirl caught in confusion between the rigid teaching of her ancestors and the strange ways of her foreign classmates. After that the college student feeling her was toward personal identity in the face of parental indifference or outright opposition. And finally the artist whose early triumphs were doubled by the knowledge that she had at long last won recognition from her family.
Introduction to the 1989 Edition
Author's Note to the Original Edition

1. The World Was New
2. The World Grows
3. Forgiveness from Heaven
4. Grandmother and Her World Back Home
5. Lucky to Be Born a Chinese
6. Uncle Kwok
7. Learning the Be a Chinese Housewife
8. The Taste of Independence
9. Saturday's Reward and Sunday's Holiday
10. "One Who or That Which Slips"
11. With Eyes on China
12. Cousin Kee
13. A Person as Well as a Female
14. Girl Meets Boy
15. A Measure of Freedom
16. Marriage Old and New Style
17. An Unexpected Offer - and a Decision
18. "Learning Can Never Be Poor or Exhausted"
19. Musicians On and Off Stage
20. She Finds Her Hands
21. A Summer of Excitements
22. Sending the Ships to War
23. "A Little Child Shall Lead Them"
24. Rediscovering Chinatown
25. The Sanctum of Harmonious Spring
26. Alas, She Was Born Too Tall
27. A Life Plan Is Cast
28. "The Work of One Day Is Gazed Upon for One Thousand Days"

"A sensitive and revealing story of a Chinese American girl's coming of age in America. It is unique."
-New York Herald Tribune

"A fascinating narrative, not only because of the courage and humour which shine through every page of the book, but also because it shows how the members of a typical Chinese family can adapt themselves to American conditions and take their part in the national life of the United States without losing the essentials of the cultural heritage which they rightly prize."
-Times Literary Supplement