Beginning with her family’s harrowing migration out of
Saigon in 1975, Stealing Buddha’s Dinner
follows Bich Nguyen as she comes of age in the pre-PC-era Midwest. Filled with
a rapacious hunger for American identity, Nguyen’s desire to belong transmutes
More exotic-seeming than her Buddhist grandmother’s traditional specialties,
the campy, preservative-filled “delicacies” of mainstream America become an
ingenious metaphor for her struggle to become a “real” American.
Dinner is also a portrayal of a diverse family: Nguyen’s hardworking,
hard-partying father; pretty sister; wise and nurturing grandmother; and Rosa,
her Latina stepmother. And there is the mystery of Nguyen’s birth mother, unveiled
movingly over the course of the book.
Nostalgic and candid, Stealing
Buddha’s Dinner is a unique vision of the immigrant experience and a
lyrical ode to how identity is often shaped by the things we long for.
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