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Wooden Fish Songs
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Wooden Fish Songs

By Ruthanne Lum McCunn
Latest Edition 2007, 385 pages, Paperback.
Book Description from Back Cover
Comments from Back Cover
About the Author

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Book Description from Back Cover

"Wooden fish songs" were the laments sung by nineteenth-century Chinese women left behind by husbands, sons, and brothers who sailed to America in quest of a better life. What the men often found there instead were years of indentured servitude and racial discrimination, which they typically suffered in silence. Lue Gim Gong, a real-life Chinese pioneer, seized the opportunity to go to America, where he developed the new species of frost-hardy oranges for which he is today remembered. The story of his attempt to assimilate the new culture, his few successes, and his frequent setbacks is told not by himself but by the women who cared most about him: his mother in China, a New England spinster who loved him, and a friend and coworker who was the daughter of slaves.

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Comments from Back Cover

"Rich and beautiful storytelling, full of cultural nuance and finely crafted characters."

"Impressively researched and richly portrayed. . . . An inspiring story."
-San Francisco Chronicle

"The author's remarkable literary achievement here is that she has created the distinct voices of three very different characters who belong to, and who express, the traditions and values of their own rich cultures."
-Santa Rosa Press Democrat

"Historical fiction with a flourish. . . . Succeeds at placing Asian immigrant experiences within a framework of race, class, and gender issues."

"Tells an affecting story of a lonely, dedicated life."
-Publishers Weekly

"Perhaps the most amazing thing about this remarkable story is the extensive, wide-ranging, thorough research. . . . Lue Gim Gong's life seems almost too remarkable to be true, but it is clear that McCunn has recreated a culture and an era faithful to reality."

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Background on Ruthanne Lum McCunn

Ruthanne Lum McCunn is the author of the highly acclaimed novel Thousand Pieces of Gold, as well as a pictorial history, Chinese American Portraits: Personal Histories, 1828-1988. She was born in San Francisco's Chinatown and grew up in Hong Kong. She currently lives in San Francisco.

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