Girl in Translation

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Introducing a fresh, exciting Chinese-American voice, an inspiring debut about an immigrant girl forced to choose between two worlds and two futures.

When Kimberly Chang and her mother emigrate from Hong Kong to Brooklyn squalor, she quickly begins a secret double life: exceptional schoolgirl during the day, Chinatown sweatshop worker in the evenings. Disguising the more difficult truths of her life-like the staggering degree of her poverty, the weight of her family's future resting on her shoulders, or her secret love for a factory boy who shares none of her talent or ambition-Kimberly learns to constantly translate not just her language but herself back and forth between the worlds she straddles.

Through Kimberly's story, author Jean Kwok, who also emigrated from Hong Kong as a young girl, brings to the page the lives of countless immigrants who are caught between the pressure to succeed in America, their duty to their family, and their own personal desires, exposing a world that we rarely hear about. Written in an indelible voice that dramatizes the tensions of an immigrant girl growing up between two cultures, surrounded by a language and world only half understood, Girl in Translation is an unforgettable and classic novel of an American immigrant-a moving tale of hardship and triumph, heartbreak and love, and all that gets lost in translation.

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About the author

Jean Kwok was born in Hong Kong and immigrated to Brooklyn as a young girl. Jean received her bachelor’s degree from Harvard and completed an MFA in Fiction at Columbia. She worked as an English teacher and Dutch-English translator at Leiden University in the Netherlands, and now writes full-time. She has been published in Story Magazine and Prairie Schooner.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Penguin
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Published on
Apr 29, 2010
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Pages
320
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ISBN
9781101187487
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Asian American
Fiction / Coming of Age
Fiction / Literary
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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A sly debut story collection that conjures the experience of adolescence through the eyes of Chinese American girls growing up in New York City—for readers of Zadie Smith and Helen Oyeyemi.

Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize • Winner of the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction • Finalist for the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New Yorker • NPR • O: The Oprah Magazine • The Guardian • Esquire • New York • BuzzFeed

A fresh new voice emerges with the arrival of Sour Heart, establishing Jenny Zhang as a frank and subversive interpreter of the immigrant experience in America. Her stories cut across generations and continents, moving from the fraught halls of a public school in Flushing, Queens, to the tumultuous streets of Shanghai, China, during the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s. In the absence of grown-ups, latchkey kids experiment on each other until one day the experiments turn violent; an overbearing mother abandons her artistic aspirations to come to America but relives her glory days through karaoke; and a shy loner struggles to master English so she can speak to God.

Narrated by the daughters of Chinese immigrants who fled imperiled lives as artists back home only to struggle to stay afloat—dumpster diving for food and scamming Atlantic City casino buses to make a buck—these seven stories showcase Zhang’s compassion, moral courage, and a perverse sense of humor reminiscent of Portnoy’s Complaint. A darkly funny and intimate rendering of girlhood, Sour Heart examines what it means to belong to a family, to find your home, leave it, reject it, and return again.

Praise for Sour Heart

“[Jenny Zhang’s] coming-of-age tales are coarse and funny, sweet and sour, told in language that’s rough-hewn yet pulsating with energy.”—USA Today

“One of the knockout fiction debuts of the year.”—New York

“Compelling writing about what it means to be a teenager . . . It’s brilliant, it’s dark, but it’s also humorous and filled with love.”—Isaac Fitzgerald, Today

“[A] combustible collection . . . in a class of its own.”—Booklist (starred review)

“Gorgeous and grotesque . . . [a] tremendous debut.”—Slate
NATIONAL BESTSELLER • In a powerful debut about modern-day motherhood, immigration, and identity, a pregnant Chinese woman stakes a claim to the American dream in California.

“Utterly absorbing.”—Celeste Ng • “A marvel of a first novel.”—O: The Oprah Magazine • “The most eye-opening literary adventure of the year.”—Entertainment Weekly

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Washington Post • NPR • Real Simple

Holed up with other mothers-to-be in a secret maternity home in Los Angeles, Scarlett Chen is far from her native China, where she worked in a factory and fell in love with the married owner, Boss Yeung. Now she’s carrying his baby. To ensure that his child—his first son—has every advantage, Boss Yeung has shipped Scarlett off to give birth on American soil. As Scarlett awaits the baby’s arrival, she spars with her imperious housemates. The only one who fits in even less is Daisy, a spirited, pregnant teenager who is being kept apart from her American boyfriend.

Then a new sonogram of Scarlett’s baby reveals the unexpected. Panicked, she goes on the run by hijacking a van—only to discover that she has a stowaway: Daisy, who intends to track down the father of her child. The two flee to San Francisco’s bustling Chinatown, where Scarlett will join countless immigrants desperately trying to seize their piece of the American dream. What Scarlett doesn’t know is that her baby’s father is not far behind her.

A River of Stars is a vivid examination of home and belonging and a moving portrayal of a woman determined to build her own future.

Praise for A River of Stars

“Vanessa Hua’s story spins with wild fervor, with charming protagonists fiercely motivated by maternal and survival instincts.”—USA Today

“A River of Stars is the best of all worlds: part buddy cop adventure, part coming-of-age story and part ode to female friendship.”—NPR

“Hua’s epic A River of Stars follows a pair of pregnant Chinese immigrant women—two of the more vibrant characters I’ve come across in a while—on the lam from Los Angeles to San Francisco’s Chinatown.”—R. O. Kwon, author of The Incendiaries, in Esquire

“A delightful novel of motherhood and Chinese immigration . . . Without wading into policy debates, Ms Hua dramatises the stories and contributions of immigrants who believe in grand ideals and strive to live up to them.”—The Economist
“A triumph of storytelling. Henríquez pulls us into the lives of her characters with such mastery that we hang on to them just as fiercely as they hang on to one another and their dreams. This passionate, powerful novel will stay with you long after you’ve turned the final page.” —Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
 
A boy and a girl who fall in love. Two families whose hopes collide with destiny. An extraordinary novel that offers a resonant new definition of what it means to be American.

Arturo and Alma Rivera have lived their whole lives in Mexico. One day, their beautiful fifteen-year-old daughter, Maribel, sustains a terrible injury, one that casts doubt on whether she’ll ever be the same. And so, leaving all they have behind, the Riveras come to America with a single dream: that in this country of great opportunity and resources, Maribel can get better.

When Mayor Toro, whose family is from Panama, sees Maribel in a Dollar Tree store, it is love at first sight. It’s also the beginning of a friendship between the Rivera and Toro families, whose web of guilt and love and responsibility is at this novel’s core.

Woven into their stories are the testimonials of men and women who have come to the United States from all over Latin America. Their journeys and their voices will inspire you, surprise you, and break your heart.

Suspenseful, wry and immediate, rich in spirit and humanity, The Book of Unknown Americans is a work of rare force and originality.



This eBook edition includes a Reading Group Guide.
A compulsively readable debut novel about marriage, immigration, class, race, and the trapdoors in the American Dream—the unforgettable story of a young Cameroonian couple making a new life in New York just as the Great Recession upends the economy

New York Times Bestseller • Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award • Longlisted for the PEN/Open Book Award • An ALA Notable Book

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY 
NPR • The New York Times Book Review • San Francisco Chronicle • The Guardian • St. Louis Post-Dispatch • Chicago Public Library • BookPage • Refinery29 • Kirkus Reviews 

Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, has come to the United States to provide a better life for himself, his wife, Neni, and their six-year-old son. In the fall of 2007, Jende can hardly believe his luck when he lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Clark demands punctuality, discretion, and loyalty—and Jende is eager to please. Clark’s wife, Cindy, even offers Neni temporary work at the Edwardses’ summer home in the Hamptons. With these opportunities, Jende and Neni can at last gain a foothold in America and imagine a brighter future.

However, the world of great power and privilege conceals troubling secrets, and soon Jende and Neni notice cracks in their employers’ façades.

When the financial world is rocked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Jongas are desperate to keep Jende’s job—even as their marriage threatens to fall apart. As all four lives are dramatically upended, Jende and Neni are forced to make an impossible choice.

Praise for Behold the Dreamers

“A debut novel by a young woman from Cameroon that illuminates the immigrant experience in America with the tenderhearted wisdom so lacking in our political discourse . . . Mbue is a bright and captivating storyteller.”—The Washington Post

“A capacious, big-hearted novel.”—The New York Times Book Review

“Behold the Dreamers’ heart . . . belongs to the struggles and small triumphs of the Jongas, which Mbue traces in clean, quick-moving paragraphs.”—Entertainment Weekly

“Mbue’s writing is warm and captivating.”—People (book of the week)

“[Mbue’s] book isn’t the first work of fiction to grapple with the global financial crisis of 2007–2008, but it’s surely one of the best. . . . It’s a novel that depicts a country both blessed and doomed, on top of the world, but always at risk of losing its balance. It is, in other words, quintessentially American.”—NPR

“This story is one that needs to be told.”—Bust 

“Behold the Dreamers challenges us all to consider what it takes to make us genuinely content, and how long is too long to live with our dreams deferred.”—O: The Oprah Magazine

“[A] beautiful, empathetic novel.”—The Boston Globe

“A witty, compassionate, swiftly paced novel that takes on race, immigration, family and the dangers of capitalist excess.”—St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Mbue [is] a deft, often lyrical observer. . . . [Her] meticulous storytelling announces a writer in command of her gifts.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

A READ WITH JENNA • TODAY SHOW BOOK CLUB PICK 

NAMED A MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK BY New York Times • Time • Marie Claire • Elle • Buzzfeed • Huffington Post • Good Housekeeping • The Week • Goodreads • New York Post • Publishers Weekly and many more

“This is a true beach read! You can’t put it down!” – Jenna Bush Hager, Today Show Book Club Pick

“Powerful  . . . A twisting tale of love, loss, and dark family secrets.”  — Paula Hawkins, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Girl on the Train and Into the Water

A poignant and suspenseful drama that untangles the complicated ties binding three women—two sisters and their mother—in one Chinese immigrant family and explores what happens when the eldest daughter disappears, and a series of family secrets emerge, from the New York Times bestselling author of Girl in Translation

It begins with a mystery. Sylvie, the beautiful, brilliant, successful older daughter of the Lee family, flies to the Netherlands for one final visit with her dying grandmother—and then vanishes.

Amy, the sheltered baby of the Lee family, is too young to remember a time when her parents were newly immigrated and too poor to keep Sylvie. Seven years older, Sylvie was raised by a distant relative in a faraway, foreign place, and didn’t rejoin her family in America until age nine. Timid and shy, Amy has always looked up to her sister, the fierce and fearless protector who showered her with unconditional love.

But what happened to Sylvie? Amy and her parents are distraught and desperate for answers. Sylvie has always looked out for them. Now, it’s Amy’s turn to help. Terrified yet determined, Amy retraces her sister’s movements, flying to the last place Sylvie was seen. But instead of simple answers, she discovers something much more valuable: the truth. Sylvie, the golden girl, kept painful secrets . . . secrets that will reveal more about Amy’s complicated family—and herself—than she ever could have imagined.

A deeply moving story of family, secrets, identity, and longing, Searching for Sylvie Lee is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive portrait of an immigrant family. It is a profound exploration of the many ways culture and language can divide us and the impossibility of ever truly knowing someone—especially those we love.

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