Wednesday, March 23, 2011

John Jung

Recently I finished two books by John Jung . The first was his book "Southern Fried Rice : Life in a Chinese Laundry in the Deep South" which is memoir of growing up in a Chinese Laundry in the deep south . The second was "Sweet and Sour -Life in Chinese Family Restaurants." Both of these books were wonderful providing a detailed glimpse at life in the Chinese family laundry and restaurant businesses which have been so important in the history of the Chinese in America . Johns' own personal history is very fascinating . Let me have him tell you what got him interested in writing his series of books ...

"In 2002, after a long career in academia as a professor of psychology I reduced my load to a half-time basis. With more time to reflect on many issues, I returned to a question that I had avoided many times during my life, namely, how do I, as a second-generation Chinese American fit in a predominantly black and white society. I grew up in Macon, Georgia, where our family operated a laundry during the years before the civil rights era. We were the only Chinese in town, so it was difficult for me to understand who I was, ethnically speaking. Even after we moved to San Francisco when I was an adolescent, it was still difficult for me to know what it meant to be a Chinese American because I was so different from the San Francisco Chinese who had lived so closely among other Chinese all of their lives. Then just as I was 'becoming' Chinese American, I moved to other places where few Chinese lived, so I had to just forget about or neglect my Chinese-ness and concentrate on my career development. I focused on being a color-neutral 'person.'

My journey into an attempt to understand how my ethnic identity was formed led me to write a memoir that I eventually published in 2005 as "Southern Fried Rice: Life in A Chinese Laundry in the Deep South." Most people I know in California are puzzled when they learn of my southern roots, wondering why my parents settled in Georgia where there were so few Chinese. I soon realized that here was an important story to preserve and share but no one was recording this bit of the Chinese American experience. "

Here are a couple of you tube videos where John discusses the two books I have just read ..

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the nice compliment, Jack. I enjoy your blog, an excellent blend of your family's unique asparagus farming etc., with good observations about contemporary writings re: Chinese Americans such as the back story underlying "Charlie Chan."