Girl in Translation

By Jean Kwok
(Riverhead Trade, Paperback, 9781594485152, 320pp.)

Publication Date: May 3, 2011

Other Editions of This Title: Paperback, Compact Disc, Hardcover, Hardcover

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Selected by Indie Booksellers for the May 2010 Indie Next List
“It's never easy being the new kid, and harder still when you are poor and you don't speak the language. From a comfortable life in Hong Kong to a gritty sweatshop in New York, we follow Kimberly Chang in this smartly told story that illuminates the struggles of adolescence against a backdrop of poverty and cultural conflicts and reveals that, even in the land of opportunity, sometimes you have to fight for what you want and let go of what you love.”
-- Carol Mark, Books On The Common, Ridgefield, CT


Description

Introducing a fresh, exciting new voice, an inspiring debut about a Chinese 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 American immigrant novel—a moving tale of hardship and triumph, heartbreak and love, and all that gets lost in translation.
 




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.




Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. Throughout Girl in Translation, the author uses creative spelling to show Kimberly’s mis-hearing and misunderstanding of English words. How does the language of the novel evolve as Kimberly grows and matures? Do you see a change in the respective roles that English and Chinese play in the narrative as it progresses?

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