The award-winning author of GIRL IN TRANSLATION has done it again with MAMBO IN CHINATOWN. Just look at this splendid cover!
Charlie Wong is 22. She’s living in New York’s Chinatown with her Chinese born father and her American born sister. They share a very modest apartment that barely contains the three of them. Charlie is working as a dishwasher at the restaurant where her dad is the noodle maker. It is backbreaking work, but all she believes she is fit for.
Charlie needs a break. And she gets one when she is hired to be a receptionist at a ballroom dance studio. She isn’t very good at her job. But when she gets the opportunity to step into a position actually teaching beginning dance, her life slowly begins to take shape.
Charlie Wong is living a careful existence between the Eastern and the Western worlds. Her father knows and trusts only the old world Eastern ways. But Charlie lives in the Western world, the only one she’s known. When her eleven-year-old sister Lisa comes down with a mysterious illness, their father believes the only way to treat it is the Eastern way. Trouble is brewing. How will Charlie handle it?
Now, while Charlie is learning professional ballroom dancing, and becoming herself a swan, she has to keep this new lifestyle a secret from her father. He would never approve. In fact, he is already talking about an arranged marriage, possibly. Yikes.
Charlie’s mother was a professional dancer with the Beijing Dance Academy many years earlier. She and Charlie’s father had to flee China to escape the Communism. Once they arrived in this country, Charlie’s mother was never the same. She passed years ago.
We watch Charlie bloom into the young woman she was meant to become: confident, beautiful, and accomplished. But it doesn’t come easy.
Jean Kwok said recently in an interview, ” I wrote this book for all of the people, regardless of race, who are invisible to us: the ones we pass every day in taxis, restaurants and dry cleaners, whose stories often go untold. ”
Kwok was born in Hong Kong and immigrated to Brooklyn as a young girl. Between earning her bachelor’s degree from Harvard and her MFA in fiction at Columbia, she was a professional ballroom dancer. She lives in Amsterdam with her husband and children. And her gorgeous cats!
My beautiful finished copy of MAMBO IN CHINATOWN by Jean Kwok came from the very generous people at Riverhead books, a division of the Penguin Group. I can’t thank you enough.