Sunday, June 04, 2006

Book Review - Southern Fried Rice

Southern Fried Rice: Life in A Chinese Laundry in the Deep South.
Yin & Yang Press, 2005. Paper, 240 pp, 6 x 9, $15.00.

A revealing glimpse into the difficult path his parents took leaving their impoverished villages in Taishan, China, to come to Georgia to earn a living running a laundry from 1928 to 1956. Why did they, and a few male kin, venture as far as the Deep South where there were virtually no other Chinese? Why did they all own laundries and what was involved in their operation? What was it like to live in cultural isolation in the South for over 20 years? What was it like to then move to San Francisco and what adjustments were needed to live in a large Chinese community? Southern Fried Rice attests to their resourcefulness in overcoming many obstacles to survive and to instill Chinese values in their children.

Author Bio: Born in 1937, John Jung grew up living above the Sam Lee Laundry in Macon until the early 1950s when his parents moved the family to San Francisco. Earning a Ph.D. from Northwestern University in 1962, he was a Professor of Psychology at California State University, Long Beach for 40 years, publishing many research articles as well as eight college textbooks, including Psychology of Alcohol And Other Drugs, Thousand Oaks, Ca.: Sage Publications, 2001.

“Southern Fried Rice” is searchable at: Available online:

Some Praise for Southern Fried Rice

“Southern Fried Rice tells the overlooked history of Chinese Americans in the Deep South through the author’s account of his family’s experiences in Georgia running a laundry from the late 1920s through the 1950s. This inside view of an immigrant family who struggled to make a living and to maintain connections with their Chinese heritage and homeland highlights the mutability and complexity of Chinese American identity and the frequently forgotten ethnic and racial diversity of the South.”
Krystyn Moon, Asst. Prof. of History, Georgia State University
Author, Yellowface: Creating the Chinese in American Popular Music and Performance, 1850s-1920s.

“… a humane and personal reflection … an incisive clarity that shines extra light on the mundane oddities and inhuman logic of everyday life in the South before the Civil Rights era. … a rare glimpse at the fairly common experience of those Americans who found themselves in the impossible spaces of the American racial order, a world that is both thankfully distant and yet hauntingly familiar still.”
Henry Yu, Associate Professor of History, UCLA and University of British Columbia
Author, Thinking Orientals, Migration, Contact, and Exoticism in Modern America

“…Being the only Chinese in town, their lives were certainly not mint julep and magnolias. Southern Fried Rice describes the process of running a laundry and the difficulty of raising children isolated from other Chinese... Through it all, the family, itself, remained steadfast in their cultural traits and folkways. …Quan Shee, the author’s mother, was truly a woman warrior...”
Sylvia Sun Minnick Author, Samfow, The San Joaquin Chinese Experience

“Southern Fried Rice offers a fascinating and insightful account of Chinese-American family life in the context of restraints on immigration and the U.S. racial and economic systems. This story of one remarkable family offers valuable insight about economic struggles in difficult times, intergenerational relations, continuing ties to Chinese culture and community, family obligation, gender, the key role of laundries in Chinese economic opportunity, and much else. This is a charming and informative book.”
Paul Rosenblatt, Professor of Family Social Sciences, University of Minnesota

“This narrative, woven with genuine scholarship about the lives of Chinese immigrants, is a masterful bit of storytelling. It is an admirable and valuable contribution.”
Ronald Gallimore, Professor, Department of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences, UCLA

“Rich with historical details of immigration, John Jung's engaging memoir about growing up Chinese in the segregated South is an insightful observation about the resilience of Asian American families and the fluidity of culture and ethnic identities across different historical moments and racialized spaces.”
Barbara Kim, Asst. Prof. Asian American Studies, Cal State University, Long Beach

“Southern Fried Rice demonstrates the fluidity of regional and national identity and is both a construction and deconstruction of "Chinese-ness."…These stories offer much toward confirming and complicating popular notions of what it means to be "American" just as it traces the slippery identity shifts of what it means to be "Chinese" … a valuable mirror that will help move the history of those who are neither Black nor White towards a more deserving central role in the national and international human story.”
Stephanie Y. Evans, Assistant Professor, African American Studies and Women's Studies, University of Florida

“This interesting memoir presents a unique view of ethnic identity development. It provides fascinating insights into the process of learning what it means to be Chinese when there is no Chinese community, or even other Chinese families, to interact with, and the way subsequent experiences in -- and out -- of a Chinese community further shape this process.”
Jean Phinney, Professor of Psychology, Cal State U, Los Angeles Creator of the Multi-Group Ethnic Identity Measure

Title: Southern fried rice: life in a Chinese laundry in the Deep South /
Author(s): Jung, John, 1937-
Publication: [California] : Yin & Yang Press,
Year: 2005
Description: xii, 221 p. : ill. ; 23 cm.
Language: English
Standard No: LCCN: 2005-905657
Descriptor: Chinese Americans -- Georgia -- Macon -- Biography.
Chinese Americans -- California -- San Francisco -- Biography.
Laundry workers -- Georgia -- Macon -- Biography.
Laundry workers -- California -- San Francisco -- Biography.
Immigrants -- Georgia -- Macon -- Biography.
Named Person: Jung, John, 1937- -- Childhood and youth.
Jung, John, 1937- -- Family.
Jung family.
Geographic: Macon (Ga.) -- Biography.
San Francisco (Calif.) -- Biography.
Note(s): Includes bibliographical references.
Class Descriptors: LC: F294.M2; Dewey: 975.8/042092; B
Responsibility: by John Jung.
Material Type: Biography (bio)
Document Type: Book
Entry: 20050902
Update: 20050923
Accession No: OCLC: 61656477
Database: WorldCat

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