A Novel About Food, Family, and Finding Yourself
By Ann Mah
(William Morrow Paperbacks, Paperback, 9780061771279, 368pp.)
Publication Date: February 2010
Isabelle Lee thinks she knows everything about Chinese cuisine. After all, during her Chinese-American childhood, she ate it every day. Isabelle may speak only "kitchen Chinese"—the familial chatter learned at her mother's knee—but she understands the language of food. Now, in the wake of a career-ending catastrophe, she's ready for a change—so she takes off for Beijing to stay with her older sister, Claire, whom she's never really known, and finds a job writing restaurant reviews for an expat magazine. In the midst of her extreme culture shock, and the more she comes to learn about her sister's own secrets, Isabelle can't help but wonder whether coming to China was a mistake . . . or an extraordinary chance to find out who she really is.
Ann Mah was born in Orange County, California, and lived in Beijing for four years, where she was the dining editor for a monthly English-language magazine. She writes regularly for the South China Morning Post, CondÉ Nast Traveler, the International Herald Tribune, and on her blog, www.annmah.net. Ann was awarded a James Beard Culinary Scholarship in 2005 and now lives in Paris.
“[A] super sharp debut....A refreshing and fun narrative, helped along by a fantastic heroine whose insights into modern China and the expatriate experience will intrigue readers. It’s a great start for a writer with much promise.”
“The vibrant depiction of Beijing, lush descriptions of sumptuous Chinese meals, and Isabelle’s struggle with how others perceive her distinguish Mah’s first novel.”
-Booklist on Kitchen Chinese
“Splendid....Warm and humorous.”
“Ann Mah’s Kitchen Chinese is a delicious debut novel, seasoned with just the right balance of humor and heart, and sprinkled with fascinating cultural tidbits. Read thoroughly. Share with friends.”
-Claire Cook, bestselling author of The Wildwater Walking Club and Must Love Dogs
“A story of how we find and nourish ourselves in unexpected ways and places, so delicious that I took breaks from reading only to dash to the phone and order Chinese.”
-Rachel DeWoskin, author of Foreign Babes in Beijing and Repeat After Me
“Suffused with humor, genuine warmth, and mouth-watering culinary descriptions, Kitchen Chinese is, first and foremost, about the adventure of self-discovery.”
-Irina Reyn, author of What Happened to Anna K.
“With a light, self-deprecating touch, Ann Mah portrays the quirks, pleasures, and surprises of life as a young Chinese-American woman finding her way in an alien motherland.”
-Jen Lin-Liu, author of Serve the People: A Stir-Fried Journey Through China
“Ann Mah’s richly detailed Kitchen Chinese is humorous enough to make you laugh out loud, and so delicious you are sure to begin craving Peking duck and dim sum. A true tale of reinventing oneself in a new and foreign world.”
-Patricia Wells, author of Vegetable Harvest and We’ll Always Have Paris... and Provence