The Barbarians are Coming

The Barbarians are Coming❰PDF❯ ✩ The Barbarians are Coming Author David Wong Louie – Sterling Lung grew up in the back of his parent's laundry dreaming about being a real American while speaking Chinese to his mother English to his friends and very little to the father he seemed alway Sterling Lung grew up in the back of his parent's laundry dreaming about being a real American while speaking Chinese to his mother English to his friends and very little to the father he seemed always to disappoint Now twenty six and a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America Sterling cooks French food for the WASP ladies of a private club in Connecticut and conducts an arm's length affair with an old Swarth classmate a Jewish American Princess from New Canaan thereby frustrating his father's dream The Barbarians PDF/EPUB ² of a doctor son and his mother's scheme for a Chinese bride For Sterling's parents the barbarians are not coming they are already hereIn a tale that alternates between black comedy and out and out slapstick between the pain of a son alienated from his father and a father an alien in his son's native land The Barbarians are Coming reveals the deep psychic wounds each man has suffered even as it ultimately leads to a reconciliation that is as moving as it is necessary Here is a tale of the immigrant experience indeed of the American experience of the deracination of the second generation and the wrenching losses of the first. What's happened to David Wong Louie? This was a gem of a book and all the better like a discovery of a hidden stash of chocolate because I came in with middling expectations I'd heard of him when I was in collegealong with Maxine Hong Kingston et al But since thennada Book jacket says that he's the author of the short story collection Pangs of Love a New York Times Notable Book of 1991 and a Voice Literary Supplement Favorite of the same year Mr Louie apparently lives in Venice California and teaches at UCLAThe plot A classically trained French chef who is second generation Chinese from Longuy lun akaLong Island Sterling Lung struggles with identity fatherhood ancestry and that clash of ideology and values that only a second generation Chinese growing up in Nixon America would Into this stew David Wong Louie throws in a second generation Jewish woman whose grandparents survived the Holocaust but who grew up in Connecticut She becomes pregnant with Sterling Lung's child ahem out of wedlock Meanwhile his parents despairing that their only son out of a family of four would ever produce an heir to carry on the Chinese surname brings over a picture bride for him from Hong Kong and situates said Chinese bride in the basement of their laundry businesshome Sterling Lung also works at a country club style establishment cooking for a group of WASP y women who liked to fondle his ponytail black brush and constantly asking him to cook Chinese which Sterling can't do because he wasn't trained for it Instead he can produce a superlative boudin blanc or gigot d'agneau His only friendship seems to be with a Jewish butcher from which David Wong Louie constructs amazing downright hilarious interactions and revelatory moments Louie is deliberately playful with his naming Get this his parents immigrants from China take on American names Father Genius Mother Zsa Zsa His Jewish girlfriend's name is Bliss Sass and she's anything but blissful like a ten ton truck that flattens anything standing in her way toward marriage and kids The Chinese bride's name is Yip Yuk Hing and Louie writes Yuk which means Jade rhymes with cook The Jewish butcher is only addressed by his last name Fuchs The writing is wonderful the sentences snappy the scenes insert fresh elements like that scene with his father in law involving the five thousand dollar fence he constructed to keep deer out of his property and Sterling gets zapped by electricity David Wong Louie forges elemental connections in his sentences that had me chuckling and shaking my head at the same time In a uick aside he writes of the father who learned to drive after losing a kidney The man loses a vital organ and naturally he wants to learn to drive a car In Genius' universe there's a perverse logic in the substitution of an internal combustion engine for a kidney which sueezes piss from blood Both make you goThe best thing about this book is how Louie captures the identity crisis of a second generation Chinese born in the US of A Not really Chinese but not really American either as Americanism is defined by the WASP y ladies he worked for Witness this Libby Drake the woman who is president of the club introduces Sterling to her assembled guests Everyone this is Sterling our very own Chinese chef She is beaming flush from her trip to China as well as from the wine racing through her system I can read her perfectly Not only are the slides and the memories they hold hers so are the people and objects in those pictures And here I am as if I'd just stepped off the screen proof of her assertion The confusion that follows then as the matter is clarified Sterling actually grew up in Long Island and had never been to China and though he might be Chinese he had no clue about how to cook classical Chinese other than the pedestrian fare his mother made at home egg foo yung is NOT classical chinese Louie paints all this with a light and deft touch letting the characters speak and impale themselves It's the throwaway detail that catches my eye time and again as a writer The throwaway detail that tells so much in its economy Zsa Zsa who could neither read nor write English despite having been in America to birth four children for whom riding the bus is an ordeal because her ultimate nightmare is getting off too early or too late Genius' reaction to a discarded Frigidaire out on the kerb I won it It's all mine Sterling's second generation American eyes assessing his crazy father filching a discarded Frigidaire off the street as if he'd just won the lotto The man is a whole human being bearing all the reuisite parts but at the same time everything about him feels wrong patently untrustworthyLouie also unravels the interpolation of the American dream for a second generation Chinese Sterling wants his father in law's magnificent house with its entirely glass ten foot tall windows looking out at acres of prime Connecticut real estate The money as evidenced by the lavish wedding he threw for his daughter and Sterling the confidence with which he takes on the world to wit the urinal scene where father in law and son in law pee side by side who has the bigger dick who has the bigger bladder But really where it cuts to the bone pardon the cooking metaphor although it ties in so well with the cooking theme of this book and Sterling's friendship with a butcher is the ironic reflection Sterling makes of his communiues with his father in law The man asks him immediately to call him Dad before the wedding is over He puts his hands on his shoulders he confides in Sterling and yet Sterling is filled with horror at the way the man responds to deer as vermin and in a rare poignant scene Sterling becomes the deer in headlights as his father in law looks through him at the deer and says Look at that son of a bitch standing on my property These intimacies shared between father in law and son in law are simultaneously all the intimacies lacking in Sterling's relationship with his own father Genius The gulf between father and son first and second generation Chinese in America is explored through the lens of The Other the Jewish father in law thus flipping the archetype of the other as a double entendre of the racial power dynamicA lot of this kind of racial territory has been explored ad infinitum since in myriad stereotypes of the Asian American experience but when David Wong Louie first wrote all this in 2000 this was fresh ground and the writing the narrative the plotting reveal that The story is all in shade the shade of that beautiful thing called 'nuance' There's so much to learn here for the immigrant novelist Definitely take a leaf out of this book This would probably count as my introduction to the East Asian immigrant experience subgenre and I was certainly pleased that this book in fact picked me in the Oxfam bookshop or was serendipitously handed to me at leastI felt the first part of the story had a solid build up It had all the right elements for what felt like an accurate portrayal of the emotional numbness that comes with the unending internal struggle of being stuck between appropriating cultures This numbness that Sterling feels as an American born Chinese was not void of feeling or empathy but a result of accepting that his life has always elicited disappointment in other people However subseuent parts of the novel give us the bigger picture and a satisfying backstory but for some reason I was always hoping that the story would segue back to the atmosphere of Sterling's premarital life Instead things became grimmer with every page as the general theme of the book became about advanced alienation and detachment than about merely not being able to meet all sorts of expectations preordained by your loved onesReading this evokes clear images to the mind aided by the author'sprotagonist's enthusiasm for sublime culinary experiences Contrasting Chinese and Jewish American culture through food serves as a natural metaphor for describing belonging and identity and this was done very tastefully In the novel “The Barbarians Are Coming” author David Wong Louie tells the story of Sterling Lung a young chinese immigrant who discards his past Chinese culture and traditional beliefs despite the protest from his parents that wholeheartedly believe to tradition Like most families that immigrated to America Lung’s family hoped to be able to obtain the American Dream which leads to wealth and happiness The novel mainly takes place during the late 1900s in Richfield ConnecticutIowa After Lung’s family arrived in Richfield he would learn that the American Dream would be a lot harder to obtain than realized Especially obvious with his father named Genius runs a laundromat in Richfield working full time to be able to afford rent and his mother Zsa Zsa stays home to play the role of housewifeOne of the most important themes of this book is discrimination Discrimination is prominent throughout the novel as Lung’s father is constantly mocked in his workplace The mocking of Genius and Lung’s parents disent to American traditions makes both Lung and Zsa Zsa dislike Americans a lot; hence Lung’s parents call Americans barbarians Another major theme about this novel is Americanization The process of which that many people who immigrated to America had to deal with in order to obtain the American Dream Lung’s parents though don’t want there norm to be changed into that of the American norm They don’t want to have americanized beliefs and want to stick with their traditional beliefs Things become tense though for the Lung family when Sterling decides to become a chef After graduating from a university disobeying his father Sterling studies at a culinary school to become a chef Genius doesn’t approve of this decision and constantly protests to Sterling’s decision Genius wants Sterling to be the man of the house and become a doctor in order to obtain the American Dream He doesn’t want Sterling to become a chef because usually in Chinese culture cooking is a task meant for women Genius explains to his son that being a chef isn’t a profession he should be seeking Sterling disobeys his father’s wishes though and strives to obtain the dream he always wanted However this causes a distance in the relationship between father and son It also starts to ruin the stability of their family Ever since Sterling finally got a job as a chef he is always still resenting his father Whenever he cooks food he will never make Chinese cuisine and only makes other dishes This shows that Sterling has became Americanized and obtained his idea of an American dream this would lead to a rift between him and his fatherI would recommend this book because it tells a story of a very relatable story to many Even if it isn’t a chinese family many people can relate with what Genius wanted his son to become and what Genius actually desired Similar to The Kite Runner after immigrating to America Baba wanted Amir to either become a lawyer or doctor but Amir wanted to become a writer The same situation can be said for Sterling Another reason I would recommend this book is due to the authors use of many literary devices such as foreshadowing and imagery These literary devices help to keep a constant flow of suspense throughout the book while also helping to keep the story from sounding too exaggerated The characters also have a lot of emotion in their lines when you see Genius go from a father who supported his son to a father that will be ashamed of him for life The foreshadowing also for when the rift in the family starts to appear is amazing An example of this is Sterling slowly becoming Americanized replying to all of his parent’s native language with english While reading this novel I realized that the story told in “The Barbarian’s Are Coming” is in a way very similar to mine Although I was born in America my parents immigrated from China in order to pursue a better life I also lost a lot of my Chinese identity growing up very similarly to Sterling I remember my parents always telling me I was able to speak Chinese when I was a baby but when I started to go to school at age 5 the only words I spoke were in English This novel has gave me a lot of insight into the lives of many that became Americanized to obtain the American Dream Foist is a word that I cannot handle No matter how many times I’ve encountered it and looked it up I have to look it up again for the next encounter Same for words like flout flounder flaunt F for failure to remember I don’t know about native speakers but for non native speakers like me such an inadeuacy is negligible compared with other annoying language incapacity I’ve discovered and felt powerless to deal with I can always attribute my memory lapse to the fact that my mind is not wired for alphabets Genetically I am a tonal language live machine even if scientists haven’t found the tonal genes or probably will never findThen I watched an episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and all those cool things Leon teaches Larry By the way I think Leon should open a language school for immigrants since he can make the language alive and kicking unlike those English language courses I took in school for which vocabulary memorization and grammar rules strangled the last bit of spirit out of English Leon tells Larry that he’s been foisted with a secretary that everybody wants to unload onto somebody else Bingo I suddenly learned the word foist without really learning it and memorized it without beating my brain with a mental stickAnd “foist” is the most suitable word to describe the central character Sterling Lung in “The Barbarians Are Coming” His relationship with Bliss is practically foisted on him by Bliss’ one sided enthusiasm sort of like the motherly love Bliss is pregnant with his child Even this unborn child seems to be foisted on him Then he cooks for a beautiful Xena like woman and the next thing he knows she’s drunk and tries to foist herself on him His parents try to foist all kinds of things on him–the idea of going to medical school which he rebels against their contempt for his culinary aspiration etc They even arrange to get a picture bride–I think the barbarian in the title actually refers to her but I can be wrong–from Hong Kong for him forcing him to ditch other women and to marry this barbarian This last piece of foisting is the most egregious of allI am still at the 4th chapter of the book and I don’t know if foisting is going to happen It seems that cooking is the only thing nobody foists on him and everything else in life is imposed and unwelcomeHe writes so well and it almost pains me to talk about the prevailing foisting in his book Fortunately he passed away two years ago and would not get hurt by whatever I say about his book Only 63 years old Too young to die for a modern man All of the main characters in the book were completely unlikeable which made it hard to finish the book The main character’s loathing of his Chinese background seemed especially forced he constantly has to remind the reader of how much he hates himself to the point where his redemption at the end comes across as contrived 3 stars instead of 1 because the writing was beautiful and the author is obviously a talented writer This is a very iffy 3 star as I just couldn't feel empathy for any of the characters Interesting take on the culture clash of immigrant parents and American born son I found it very hard to follow the father's relationship with Lucy his American wife just too unrelatable for me The Chinese culture was uite interesting and I enjoyed the male point of view I did not find Sterling that sympathetic through much of this novel but the ending was touching and I feel that at least Sterling is a dynamic character righting himself in the end to realize his place in the world David Louie is an impressive writer with funny and clever use of language However I don't know if I can finish the book because for my taste it meanders around the story line and takes a lot of discipline on my part to stay engaged I thought this book was very well written and sad This is one of those hidden gems This book is difficult to read because it is so ugly brutal and honest No character in this book is very likeable with exception to the children But I feel the author poured his heart into this book maybe wrote from personal experience? This is an exceptionally realistic look into Asian American culture particularly the ABCs American born Chinese or first generation kids with immigrant parents The protagonist is male He is a professional chef a job which obviously confuses and infuriates his parents Even so though he finds himself falling almost willingly into the stereotype of the effeminate Asian male in order to win over his clients He falls for an all American blondie with the successful TV producer dad who manage to turn him into yet another Asian stereotype the lisping goofy TV nerdy chef Yet in his narration the protagonist clearly knows he's being played but for sake of marital harmony and career he goes along with it all Sadly as he tries to reconnect his failing life with his Asian roots his wife digs her heels in and steadfastly refuses to listenI don't think my description does justice to this book But it really does do a good job illustrating how young Asian Americans can feel like they're caught between the American and Chinese version of their personalities This book is a good example of how being caught between two worlds can literally tear apart someone's life

The Barbarians are Coming ePUB ç The Barbarians
  • Paperback
  • 384 pages
  • The Barbarians are Coming
  • David Wong Louie
  • English
  • 04 March 2016
  • 9780425178287