-by Judy Fong Bates
320 pages (2004)
The people behind the faces of the local Chinese-Canadian greasy spoon
With a quiet, unassuming elegance, Canadian-Chinese author Judy Fong-Bates sets the scene for her highly applauded debut novel, Midnight at the Dragon Café. Perhaps this story touched me more acutely than most of its readers, as it called to mind what my father and his parents must have experienced during and after their immigration from Hong Kong to a little town in Canada in the mid-1950s. Every word to me was genuine, haunting, compelling…
Little Su-Jen Chou (at the tender age of six), along with her beautiful yet bitter mother, immigrates to Canada from Communist China, to meet the father she has never known. A father who is the proprietor of the local Canadian-Chinese “greasy spoon”. With Su-Jen's mother constantly haunted with yearnings for her homeland, unpleasant family secrets uncovered, and the trials and challenges they face in a new and often-times unwelcoming land, Fong-Bates weaves a story full of heartbreak, tribulation and acceptance.
Poignant in its simplicity and yet weighty in its inner complexities, Midnight at the Dragon Café explores many social issues of the time, along with the disappointments, the pride, the sacrifices, and the triumphs of those who immigrated to Canada in search of something ‘better’.
Stirring and well written, Fong-Bates’ stunning first novel deserves a heaping spoonful of praise.
Buy Midnight At The Dragon Café at Amazon.com