Leah Greenblatt
April 11, 2005 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Midnight at the Dragon Cafe

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Judy Fong Bates
publisher
Counterpoint
genre
Historical Fiction, Fiction

We gave it an A-

From the first page of Midnight at the Dragon Café, Judy Fong Bates creates a discrete, complete fictional world centered on a Chinese family escaping the Communists for rural Canada in the 1950s. Narrator Su-Jen Chou is a highly perceptive, inward-looking girl drawn to the lo fon (white) culture around her even as she struggles to remain the obedient Old World child that her family expects. Su-Jen’s adolescent struggles are achingly real, though the dangerous dynamic between Su-Jen’s elderly father, beautiful young mother, and rebellious half brother teeters toward soap opera. Luckily, Bates writes in clean, understated prose, imbuing her characters with a lasting poignancy.

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