On Gold Mountain: The One-Hundred-Year Odyssey of My Chinese-American Family
Out of the stories heard in her childhood in Los Angeles's Chinatown and years of research, See has constructed this sweeping chronicle of her Chinese-American family, a work that takes in stories of racism and romance, entrepreneurial genius and domestic heartache, secret marriages and sibling rivalries, in a powerful history of two cultures meeting in a new world. 82 photos.
the Chinese point of view: “Colored” women were okay, because they were good workers; Mexican girls were bad, because they would bring their families and require too many bedrooms; Japanese girls believed themselves superior. Lui then described an affair between a Chinese man and a white woman. The couple was driving to a picnic in the country, making “dove-eyes” at one another, when a white man stepped up to the car and accused the Chinese man of being a white slaver. The woman interjected, “I
go to the Chinatown along Spring, Broadway, and Hill streets anymore. “All the Cantonese people have passed away,” says one family friend. “I won’t go to Chinatown because of the parking and the new dialects.” Just as in years past, this city-within-a-city still serves as port of entry to new immigrants. Vietnamese noodle shops stand beside traditional Chinese herbal emporiums. Cambodian record stores compete with T-shirt stands run by a new wave of immigrants from Kowloon and Hong Kong.
as her father had done. She’d also had trouble with his name. Fong was his last name and See was his first, except that Fong was actually his first name and See was his last. She didn’t want to call her husband See. That didn’t make any sense at all. “It’s a tricky business, trying to settle your name legally,” she cautioned. “We don’t want to attract attention from the authorities. We don’t want them to point a finger at you. They might think you aren’t telling the truth. So we’ll always be
Sees.” He agreed, and she’d taken to calling him Suie or Suie On. It was the name of the store, but it seemed more personal somehow—just between the two of them. Besides, it was easier for the customers. They couldn’t be expected to remember so many different things. Let them think the store was named for him. It would place him one more notch above the workers. They had only one problem now: this damned underwear business. She sniffed. Fancy underwear for fancy ladies! In a pig’s eye! Even with
the Emperor of Heaven on the behavior of the family during the past twelve months. With Fong Yun usually away in the Gold Mountain, the family developed its own routine. Servants woke up the children, washed them, fed them. The younger children stayed at home during the day. The older boys—Kuen, Ho, and Haw—went to school, where they studied the teachings of Confucius, classical poetry, and the new ideals and ideas of the Republic. People in the village treated Fong Yun’s family kindly, because