From the bestselling author of Girl in Translation comes a new novel, Mambo in Chinatown ($27.95), the story of a young woman torn between her family duties in Chinatown and her escape into the world of ballroom dancing.
Twenty-two-year-old Charlie Wong grew up in New York’s Chinatown, the older daughter of a Beijing ballerina and a noodle maker. Though an ABC (America-born Chinese), Charlie’s entire world has been limited to this small area. Now grown, she lives in the same, tiny apartment with her widower father and her eleven-year-old sister, and works—miserably—as a dishwasher.
But when she lands a job as a receptionist at a ballroom dance studio, Charlie gains access to a world she hardly knew existed, and everything she once took to be certain turns upside down. Slowly, within this new arena, shy, clumsy, unfashionable Charlie’s own natural talents begin to emerge, and gradually her perspective, her expectations, and her sense of self all are transformed—something she must hide, at great pains, from her father and his suspicion of all things Western. As Charlie blossoms, though, her sister becomes chronically ill. As Pa insists on treating his ailing child exclusively with Eastern practices to no avail, Charlie is forced to find a way to reconcile her two selves and her two worlds—Eastern and Western, old world and new—to rescue her sister while also keeping her newfound confidence and identity.
Jean Kwok is the author of Girl in Translation. She was born in Hong Kong and immigrated to Brooklyn as a young girl. Jean received her bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and completed an MFA in Fiction at Columbia University.